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Statement by President Higgins on the death of Brian O’Doherty

Date: Wed 9th Nov, 2022 | 15:27

“It is with deep sadness and a sense of loss that people throughout the arts world will have heard of the death of Brian O’Doherty.

Having arrived in America to pursue the career in medicine which he had begun at University College Dublin and Cambridge University, Brian went on, encouraged by Jack Yeats, to instead dedicate a remarkable career to so many aspects of artistic and creative life in his adopted country.

As an artist, art critic and novelist, he has left an enduring legacy in such diverse works as his groundbreaking three-part essay ‘Inside the White Cube’, his Man Booker Prize nominated novel ‘The Deposition of Father McGreevy’ and his many artistic works including his ‘Rope Drawing’ series and his murals inspired by Ogham script.

Indeed, such was his contribution to American art that the fellow-artist George Segal described O’Doherty’s drawings as ‘the greatest oevre of drawings by any post-War American artist’.

Despite this characterisation, Brian O’Doherty of course never forgot his homeland and retained a strong interest in Ireland. Most notably, in the adoption of his most well-known alter ego ‘Patrick Ireland’, with which he signed his work from 1972 onwards following the atrocities of Bloody Sunday. A moniker which was brought to a close thirty six years later following the establishment of power sharing in Northern Ireland in a carefully choreographed event at the Irish Museum of Modern Art marking the demise, wake, funeral cortege and solemn burial of ‘Patrick Ireland’.

May I extend my deepest sympathies to his wife Barbara Novak and to all his family and friends.”