Visual Arts

Barrie Cooke

Born in Cheshire, England, in 1931, Barrie Cooke spent part of his childhood in Jamaica and Bermuda before moving to the U.S. as a teenager, where he studied art history at Harvard University.

He held his first solo exhibition in New York in 1950, moved to Ireland in 1954, and received a scholarship to study with Oskar Kokoschka in Salzburg in 1955. He represented Ireland at the Paris Biennale in 1963. While he has been based in Ireland since the 1950s, frequent travels to places such as Lapland, New Zealand, Borneo and Malaya have strongly influenced his expressionist, semi-abstract paintings about the variety and flux of nature.

He has collaborated with poets including Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes. In addition to his paintings, he also produced a series of “bone boxes” in perspex during the 1970s, which were exhibited at Kilkenny Castle in 1981. He has exhibited widely throughout Europe, the U.S. and Canada. Major retrospectives include shows in the Douglas Hyde Gallery (1986), the Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Hague (1992), and LAC, Perpignan, France (1995).

His work is held by the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the Ulster Museum, the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, the Haags Gemeentemuseum, and in many other collections worldwide. He won the Marten Toonder Award in 1988, and the Irish-American Cultural Institute’s O’Malley Award in 2002.

Recent exhibitions include Model Arts and Niland Gallery, Sligo (2002); Iziko Museum, Cape Town (2007); the Irish Musuem of Modern Art (2008); The Butler Gallery, Kilkenny; (2009). An exhibition to mark Cooke’s 80th birthday was held in IMMA, Dublin, in 2011.

05 March 2014
Aosdána members have reacted with great sadness to news of the death of fellow artist Barrie Cooke. Born in England in 1931, Cooke made Ireland his home from 1954.

Speaking about Cooke’s death, Brian Maguire of Aosdána said:
“Barrie was a painter who worked in a singular style that evolved over time, while remaining true to its sources. He was passionate about painting and his concern for the environment was particularly evident in his later work. His influence was great, but quietly so. He will be sadly missed by fellow Aosdána members and the visual arts community in Ireland.”

May he rest in peace

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