Louis Le Brocquy
1916 - 2012
Louis Le Brocquy was born Dublin in 1916. He is a self-taught artist that has come to be recognised both at home and internationally as the foremost Irish painter of the 20th century.
Le Brocquy left Ireland in 1938 to study the major European art collections in London, Paris, Venice and Geneva, then exhibiting the Prado collection during the Spanish Civil War. His return to Dublin signalled the advent of the Irish Exhibition of Living Art, which established an effective forum for contemporary art in Dublin in 1943. Emerging as an innovative and influential artist, in 1946 le Brocquy moved to London and became prominent in the contemporary art scene. He began to exhibit internationally, winning a major prize at the Venice Biennale in 1956 where he represented Ireland. In 1958, he was included in the historic exhibition Fifty Years of Modern Art, Brussels World Fair.
His work has received much international attention and many accolades in a career that spans seventy years of creative practice. According to John Russell, ‘When Louis le Brocquy first came to be known as a painter, some (fifty) years ago, it was not as the civilised head-hunter that he has lately become. It was as a story-teller, a symbolist, and a thoughtful enquirer into the conditions of life.’ Widely acclaimed for his evocative heads of literary figures and fellow artists, including W.B. Yeats, James Joyce and his friends Samuel Beckett, Francis Bacon, Seamus Heaney and Bono, in recent years le Brocquy’s early Tinker subjects and Family paintings, have attracted headline attention in the international art arena marking him as the fourth painter in Ireland and Britain to be evaluated within a very select group of artists, alonside Lucian Freud, David Hockney and Francis Bacon. The recent realisation of over £1 million for one of his works at auction is not merely a record but an acknowledgment of his genius and international appeal.
Acknowledged by museum retrospective exhibitions worldwide, including France, USA and Japan, the artist’s work is represented in numerous public collections, from the Guggenheim, New York to the Tate, London. In Ireland he is honoured as the first and only living painter to be included in the Permanent Irish Collection of the National Gallery.