Visual Arts

Brian King

Born in Dublin in 1942, Brian King studied at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, where he lectured for a number of years and now heads the sculpture department.

He participated in the Irish Exhibition of Living Art from 1964 to 1978, won the exhibition’s Carroll’s award in 1965, and served as its president for the last 10 years. In 1969 and 1983 he represented Ireland at the Paris Biennale, on the former occasion becoming the first Irish artist to win the major individual prize.

His public commissions are typically large-scale metal sculptures in an abstract, minimalist style, based on simple geometric patterns. Solo exhibitions include Dawson Gallery, Dublin (1968, 74, 75); Ulster Museum, Belfast (1973); Project Arts Centre, Dublin (1980); Taylor Galleries, Dublin (1979, 82, 88, 90) and the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (1982).

He has participated in major group exhibitions across Ireland and Europe, and his work is held in public collections including the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, Dublin; Crawford Municipal Gallery, Cork; RTÉ; Bank of Ireland; Allied Irish Banks; University of Ulster and University College Dublin.

Aosdána mourns the death of Brian King

The death of Brian King on 16 April 2017 is a great blow to Aosdána, especially to those of us who remember the excitement and daring of his work as a sculptor and a thinker about the relationship between the artist and society, which filled the last four decades of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century. As well as making large monumental public works, such as the 2008 memorial to the war dead in Merrion Square, Brian was a pioneer in environmental and land art. These works, although they were often transitory – he was particularly brilliant in trapping effects of tidal flows in the sea, delaying them in time, then allowing the viewer to see them disappear – were unforgettably playful, founded in the joy of creativity.

In later life Brian paid the price for having worked with materials, like resin, without proper protection, but it was typical of him that even when breathing problems prevented him working with his hands as hard as he was used to, he turned to digital media to express himself. Brian King was an outstanding example of the kind of person Aosdána was founded to help, an artist who devotes his life to his work, regardless of official approval or disapproval. May he rest in peace. Aosdána sends condolences to his children, Julian, Adele and Lara, and their mothers, Joan and Tania.

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