Visual Arts

Louis le Brocquy

Louis le Brocquy was born in Dublin in 1916, and was a self-taught painter. In 1940 he became a founder member of the Irish Exhibition of Living Art in Dublin after his work was rejected by the Royal Hibernian Academy. He represented Ireland at the Venice Biennale in 1956, where he won the Premio Acquisito Internationale, and at the historic Fifty Years of Modern Art exhibition at the 1958 Brussels World Fair.

His early paintings included the Tinker series (1946-50), and the “grey period” (1950-56) that produced A Family, which is held in the National Gallery of Ireland. Later work focused on the condition of the individual and resulted in his famous series of head paintings, running from 1964 to 1996, which eventually included portraits of Yeats, Joyce, Beckett and Heaney. He designed many tapestries, most woven in Aubusson, France. He illustrated literary works including Beckett’s Stirrings Still (1988), Joyce’s Dubliners (1986) and Thomas Kinsella’s translation of the Táin (1969).

He held honorary degrees from the University of Dublin/Trinity College (1962); University College, Dublin (1988); Dublin City University (1999); Queen’s University, Belfast (2002); Dublin Institute of Technology (2004); and National College of Art and Design, Dublin (2006). He received the French titles Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur (1975) and Officier des Arts et des Lettres (1999), and was also made Officier de l’Ordre de la Couronne Belge (2001).

He was elected Saoi by members of Aosdána in 1992, and was honored with the Freedom of Dublin City in 2007. His work is held in national museums and modern art collections worldwide. He was based for many years in France, but later returned to live in Dublin.

Louis le Brocquy died on 25 April 2012.

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