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The second generation of modern painters


Louis le Brocquy (1916–2012)


Le Brocquy was one of the leading figures in 20th-century Irish art. He was born in Dublin and studied chemistry in Trinity College. He spent a number of years working in the family business before he set out to study the Old Masters of art in the galleries of Europe.


He returned to Dublin at the beginning of the Second World War in 1940 working as a self- taught painter. He was a founder member of the Irish Living Art Exhibition in 1943. He had his first solo exhibition in London in 1947. In 1948 he married another Irish artist, Anne Madden, and they moved to the south of France.


His busy painting career can be divided into a number of series where he worked on similar subjects. The first was a series of ‘Tinker’ paintings in the late 1940s. The first part of the


1950s was his ‘Grey Period’. He went on to a ‘White Period’ in the late 1950s, which evolved into a series of ‘Heads’, which continued on and off until 2006. There was a ‘Procession’ series in the 1980s and 1990s. A series of ‘Human Images’ from the 1990s into the new millennium and finally a ‘Homage’ series, where he worked from images of his favorite artists, including Velázquez, Goya, Cézanne and Manet.


During his 70-year career, Le Brocquy illustrated books, designed theatre sets and costumes and reintroduced tapestry as an art form. Hosting the Tain (1969) in the Irish Museum of Modern Art is one of his beautifully coloured tapestries.


His illustrations for Thomas Kinsella’s translation of The Tain (Fig. 7.17) in 1969 have great strength and vigour. The controlled brush marks demonstrate Le Brocquy’s ability to be sensitive to any medium he used.


His ‘Heads’ series of paintings was his longest- lasting and, some would say, most important body of work. He painted images of writers and artists, trying to reveal the spirit and imagination of his


Fig. 7.17


Army Massing, 1969, by Louis le Brocquy, an illustration from Thomas Kinsella’s translation of The Tain


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APPRECIATING ART: SECTION 1


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