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Creator:
John Kirby, born 1949, British
Title:

First Communion

Date:
2000
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
Support (PTG): 40 × 30 inches (101.6 × 76.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Gift of Craig Jacobson
Copyright Status:
© The Artist
Accession Number:
B2013.36.3
Classification:
Paintings
Collection:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
bald | chair | child | communion | genre subject | necktie
Access:
Not on view
Link:
https://collections.britishart.yale.edu/catalog/tms:67830
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John Kirby was raised in Liverpool to a Catholic Irish family, and after leaving school he worked for several years in Kolkata, India, at a boy’s school founded by Mother Teresa. He returned to Britain and trained at St. Martin’s College and the Royal College of Art. When asked to sum up his work, Kirby has stated succinctly: "it’s all about repression." For Kirby, that repression is explored in the intersections of family, religion, and sex. In First Communion we see a young boy sitting in a chair, dressed and ready to attend church to receive the sacrament of Holy Communion for the first time, a major rite of passage and the culmination of the process of Christian initiation. But the anxiety is palpable and discomforting for the viewer, and the boy seems out of place, dwarfed by the adult world surrounding him and overshadowed by an implication of trauma.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2020



John Kirby was raised in Liverpool to a Catholic Irish family, and after leaving school he worked for several years in Kolkata, India, at a boy’s school founded by Mother Teresa. He returned to Britain and trained at St. Martin’s College and the Royal College of Art. When asked to sum up his work, Kirby has stated succinctly: “it’s all about repression.” For Kirby, that repression is explored in the intersections of family, religion, and sex. In First Communion we see a young boy sitting in a chair, dressed and ready to attend church to receive the sacrament of Holy Communion for the first time, a major rite of passage and the culmination of the process of Christian initiation. But the anxiety is palpable and discomforting for the viewer, and the boy seems out of place, dwarfed by the adult world surrounding him, and overshadowed by an implication of trauma.

Gallery label for A Decade of Gifts and Acquisitions (Yale Center for British Art, 2017-06-01 - 2017-08-13)

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