Sly Artist and Critic Who Wore Many Hats, Brian O’Doherty, dies at 94

Brian O’Doherty was an Irish art critic, writer, artist, and scholar. He lived in New York City for more than 50 years. He has utilized a variety of alter egos, including Patrick Ireland.

Brian O’Doherty, a sly artist and critic who wore many hats, has died at the age of 94.

A good artist and critic Brian O’Doherty passed away on Monday at his New York residence from natural causes. His work included an exceptionally wide range of mediums, from forward-thinking art writing to abstract painting.

He was 94. Simone Subal, his New York gallery, announced his passing on Tuesday.


Brian O’Doherty studied medicine at University College Dublin and did post-graduate work at Cambridge University and at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Early life

Brian O’Doherty was born on 4 May 1928 in Ballaghaderreen, County Roscommon, Irish Free State. He holds Irish nationality.

In 1957 O’Doherty spent a year working in a cancer hospital before devoting himself full-time to the visual arts.

O’Doherty worked as an art critic for the New York Times in the 1960s. In 1967, he hired Roland Barthes to write an article titled “Death of the Author” for a special issue of Aspen magazine. Additionally, he has worked as an on-air art critic for NBC and as the editor of Art in America.

Brian O’Doherty Family

In response to the Bloody Sunday murders in Derry in 1972, O’Doherty started signing his writing with the name “Patrick Ireland” in the middle of his career. O’Doherty served as the head of the Visual Arts Program for a number of years before moving on to serve as the director of the Media Arts Program.

In these roles, he was in charge of developing important public television shows including American Masters and Great Performances. He is the author of various books on art criticism, including the classic Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space (1976), which is a collection of articles that were initially published in Artforum.

American Masters

He is also the author of the popular book American Masters. He analyzes and coined the phrase for the modern gallery space in the later book. In addition, he has authored three novels: The Crossdresser’s Secret (1999), The Deposition of Father McGreevy (1999), and The Strange Case of Mademoiselle P. (1992). (2014). Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery of Modern Art in Dublin had a retrospective of his work in 2005.

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In honor of Ireland’s progress towards peace, O’Doherty ceremoniously buried his alter persona at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin on May 20, 2008, and began going by his own name. O’Doherty, who is 90 years old, was the focus of three shows in 2018 that honored his work in his home in Ireland. One of these exhibitions included the restoration of the room-sized “One Here Now” artwork he produced in 1995–1996 at the Sirius Arts Centre in Cork.

Personal Life

O’Doherty was married to Barbara Novak, an art historian who served as the former head of the Barnard College art history department, for more than 30 years. He made his home and his living there.

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