Artists in the Collection

Brian O’Doherty

Born 1928, Dublin, Ireland

Brian O’Doherty emerged in the 1960s as one of the most multifaceted figures in the New York art scene. Born in Ireland in 1928 and initially trained as a doctor, O’Doherty moved to New York in 1961, where he soon garnered attention in the burgeoning conceptual art scene as both an artist and a critic. A graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, and the Cambridge Medical School, O’Doherty spent a year working in a cancer hospital and, after emigrating to the United States in 1957, conducted medical research at Harvard, before devoting himself full-time to the visual arts. He has also served as editor of Art in America and was the on-air art critic for NBC. Currently, he is professor of fine arts and media at the Southampton College campus of Long Island University.
For many years, O’Doherty was an influential member of the senior staff of the National Endowment for the Arts, first as director of the Visual Arts Program, and subsequently as director of the Media Arts Program, where he was responsible for the creation of such major public television series as American Masters and Great Performances.
In his work, O’Doherty investigates limits of perception, language, serial systems, and identity, seeking to engage viewers’ minds as well as their senses. O’Doherty has also invented a number of personas—most notably Patrick Ireland. In 1972, as a protest against the events of Bloody Sunday, O’Doherty assumed the identity of Patrick Ireland and refused to allow his work to be shown in the UK until such time as “the British military presence [was] removed and all citizens granted their civil rights.” Patrick Ireland was laid to rest in the grounds of the Irish Museum of Modern Art on 20th May 2008.

O’Doherty is the author of the groundbreaking volume ‘Inside the White Cube: Ideologies of the Gallery Space’ in which he confronts the complex relationship between economics, social context, and aesthetics as represented in the contested space of the art gallery. His novel The Deposition of Father McGreevey was nominated for the Man Booker Prize in 2000.