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IMMA presents a new exhibition by renowned Irish artist Brian O’Doherty and hosts a ceremony at which the artist is awarded the Freedom of County Roscommon

Opening on 26 April 2018, IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art) is pleased to present Brian O’Doherty Language and Space, in association with fine art print studio Stoney Road Press, Dublin. Presented in the context of our Collections exhibition Coast-Lines, this solo exhibition includes a number of works by Brian O’Doherty/Patrick Ireland from IMMA’s National Collection, in addition to drawings from the 1960s, Structural Plays and new works recently published by Stoney Road Press as limited editioned prints. 
Brian O’Doherty Language and Space marks the artist’s lifelong commitment to exploring line, language and location, and is a timely celebration of the ten-year anniversary of his performance The Burial of Patrick Ireland at IMMA in 2008. 
All of the works on display evoke the discourse between mind and body that has absorbed Brian O’Doherty throughout his career. Many are inspired by Ogham script – an ancient Celtic translation of the Roman alphabet into a writing system of 20 linear characters. No Irish artist has placed Ogham so centrally to their work as O’Doherty/Ireland. In the mid-1960s, the artist brought this 1,500 year old language into New York’s avant-garde dialogue. Ogham allowed O’Doherty/Ireland to combine his interests in minimal-conceptual systems of expression, the senses and language – concerns right at the centre of critical thinking among the 1960s avant-garde, of whom he was a pioneering figure.  He has focused extensively on Ogham’s vowels: A O U E I, which in their linear appearance and sound, have informed a vast range of his work ever since. 
Commenting on the exhibition Christina Kennedy, Head of Collections at IMMA said; “On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of The Burial of Patrick Ireland at IMMA, we are delighted to again work with artist Brian O’Doherty. This exhibition reflects the artist’s lifelong commitment to exploring line, language, identity and the senses and in this, his 90th year, acknowledges the extraordinarily prescient nature of this artist’s ideas and expression, which continue to push boundaries and provoke new thinking in art today.”
Commenting on working with Brian O’Doherty, James O’Nolan, Co-Director of his long time collaborators Stoney Road Press said; “We figured out how to register the complex web of coloured hatching he favoured, using separate etching plates, and I began to understand that these were not just drawings, they also possessed a voice. An Ogham voice. Later, working on the Structural Plays, I appreciated that not only had they had a voice, but many could be performed as well.  I suppose it could be said that these were the first prints I worked on that were all singing and all dancing.”
Brian O’Doherty is a figurehead of Irish and international contemporary art and his work holds notable legacy in Ireland. Over the past 60 years, he has invoked various identities in pursuit of his art. In 1972, as a patriotic gesture in response to Bloody Sunday and the political and civic unrest in Northern Ireland, O’Doherty performed Name Change at Project Arts Centre, Dublin, as part of the annual Irish Exhibition of Living Art. After a performance of the Ogham vowels, the artist changed his name from Brian O’Doherty to Patrick Ireland in the presence of a Notary Public. The masked, reclining artist was painted orange and green by fellow artists Robert Ballagh and Brian King, giving him the appearance of an atrocity victim. 
For the next 36 years, Brian O’Doherty published writing as an art critic, whilst Patrick Ireland continued to work as an artist. On 20 May 2008, following the establishment of a power-sharing government and peace in Northern Ireland, the effigy of Patrick Ireland was placed in a coffin and his identity was waked and buried in the formal gardens of IMMA. During this performance called The Burial of Patrick Ireland the artist reassumed his birth name Brian O’Doherty. 
Brian O’Doherty Language and Space is in the East Wing of the Main Galleries at IMMA from 26 April – 16 September 2018. Admission is free. 
Freedom of County Roscommon
On 26 April 2018, in a ceremony taking place at IMMA, Brian O’ Doherty will be awarded The Honorary Freedom of the Administrative Area of County Roscommon. For further details on this award please contact Patricia Bohan, Roscommon Co Co e: [email protected] t: +353 90 6637172
For more information and images please contact Patrice Molloy e: [email protected] t: + 353 1 612 9920

Editor’s Notes

Artist Biography
Brian O’Doherty was born in Ireland in 1928, is now based in New York. When he left Dublin in 1957, O’Doherty was a qualified medical doctor and emerging artist, and is now renowned as an artist, writer, critic, television host, filmmaker and educator. One of the pioneering generation of conceptual art, O’Doherty produced many seminal works including Portrait of Marcel Duchamp (1966-’67) and an early ‘exhibition in a box’, Aspen 5+6 (1967), which features in our concurrent IMMA Collection exhibition Coast-Lines. When he left Dublin in 1957, O’Doherty was a qualified medical doctor and emerging artist, and is now renowned as an artist, writer, critic, television host, filmmaker and educator.
Major retrospectives of O’Doherty/Ireland’s work were held at the National Museum of American Art (1986), The Elvehjem Museum of Art (1993), The Butler Institute of American Art (1994), and Dublin City Gallery, the Hugh Lane (2006) which travelled to the Grey Art Gallery, New York (2007).
O’Doherty/Ireland’s art is held in numerous private and public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Centre George Pompidou, Paris; Dublin City Gallery, the Hugh Lane, Dublin; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; National Museum of American Art, Washington D.C.; National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; Seattle Art Museum, Seattle WA; Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.
Associated Talks and Events 

For details of upcoming Talks and Events related to this exhibition please visit 

Important Notice


We would like to advise our visitors that our Main Reception area is closed for renovation from 22 April until mid-June.  A temporary reception is open on the ground floor next to the original main entrance. While we prepare to open our next exhibition Hilary Heron: A Retrospective on 24 May, there are two exhibitions to see Derry Film & Video Workshop and Self: Determination: Artists Commissions. IMMA’s gardens and café are open to the public.