President Higgins leads tributes to Brian O’Doherty

President Michael D Higgins has led tributes to renowned Ballaghaderreen-born artist, Brian O’Doherty, who has passed away in New York at the age of 94.

A spokesperson for the Arts Council confirmed that Mr. O’Doherty, described as one of the pioneering generation of conceptual art, died on Monday.

President Higgins said it was with “deep sadness and a sense of loss that people throughout the arts world will have heard of the death of Brian O’Doherty.

Mr. O’Doherty, he continued, left “an enduring legacy” following his rise to prominence in New York but had never forgotten his homeland.

  Born in Ballaghaderreen in 1928, Brian O’Doherty studied medicine at UCD before moving on to post-graduate studies at Cambridge University and the Harvard School of Public Health.

While in Harvard his love of art inspired a career change and he presented an arts programme on Boston public television, succeeding art historian Barbara Novak, who later became his wife.

O’Doherty and Novak moved to New York City in the later 1950s, where he worked as an art critic for the New York Times and as editor of numerous art magazines.

In 1972, in protest of the Bloody Sunday killings in Derry, he assumed the pseudonym ‘Patrick Ireland’ at the Irish Exhibition of Living Art in Dublin. It wasn’t until 2008 that he buried an effigy of Patrick in a ceremony at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, and resumed working under his real name.

His work is also held in private and public collections including the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the George Pompidou Centre in Paris. He was honoured with the Freedom of Roscommon in 2018.