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Le Brocquy - Freedom of Dublin City, 2007
John Kilraine reports that Dublin City Council has voted to bestow Freedom of the City of Dublin to artist Louis le Broquy and poet Thomas Kinsella
“To me painting is not a means of communication or even self-expression, but rather a process of discovery, or uncovering. I think of the painter as a kind of Archaeologist, an Archaeologist of the spirit, patiently disturbing the surface of things until he makes a discovery which will enable him to take his search further”. Louis le Brocquy was born in Dublin in 1916. His love of “discovery” initially manifested itself in his interest in science and in 1934 he attended Trinity College Dublin to study Chemistry. During his college years le Brocquy grew more aware of Art and began to visit the National and Municipal Galleries on a frequent basis. In 1938, with no formal training and with the support and encouragement of his mother, le Brocquy left Ireland to study the European Art Collections of London, Paris and Geneva. He immersed himself completely in the works of great Masters such as Titan, Velazquez, Manet and Goya. The effect and influence these works had on le Brocquy are mirrored throughout his lifetime’s works. His quest for “discovery” ultimately led to Louis le Broqcuy becoming one of Ireland’s most renowned and respected of Artists.
The inquiry into the human condition is to the forefront of le Brocquy’s paintings, and themes such as isolation and marginality can be witnessed throughout his works. In 1956 le Brocquy represented Ireland at the Venice Biennale where he won a major prize for one of his most acclaimed paintings, “A Family”, a painting which hangs proud in our National Gallery today. It is perhaps, for both his “Ancestral” and “Portrait” Heads however that le Brocquy is best known. As in the Celtic Culture le Brocquy regards the head as “a magic box containing the spirit” and this belief leads him to paint subjects who have greatly inspired him and for whom creativity is to the core of their lives. Among the many collaborations with Irish writers, notably his friends Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney, are le Brocquy’s lithographic brush drawings for Thomas Kinsella’s renowned translation of The Táin in 1969, held to be the great Irish Livre d’Artiste of the twentieth century.
Louis le Brocquy has received numerous awards and honorary Degrees throughout his life both at home and abroad. In France he has been made Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur in 1975, and Officier des Arts et des Lettres in 1996. In Belgium he was made Officier de l’Ordre de la Couronne Belge in 2001. In Ireland he was Elected Saoi of Aosdána conferred by President Mary Robinson in 1992. In 1998 he was the first artist to receive the IMMA/Glen Dimplex lifetime Achievement Award for a “sustained contribution to the arts in Ireland”. He holds six honorary doctorates.
He is also one of the few Irish Artists whose work is represented in the collections of some of the worlds most prestigious museums and galleries such as The Guggenheim in New York and the Tate in London and he is the first living Artist to be included in the permanent Irish Collection of the National Gallery of Ireland. His works are a testament to his artistic skill and ability. It is therefore fitting that the City of Dublin formally acknowledges and honours one of its most talented and creative of citizens, Louis le Brocquy, by bestowing on him the Freedom of the City.
Press Office, Civic Offices, Dublin
Commissioned by Liam Miller, le Brocquy illustrates Thomas Kinsella's inspired version of The Táin Bó Cuailnge, the dramatic record of Ireland's proto-historic past. Widely acknowledged as the great Irish Livre d'Artiste of the twentieth century, the illustrations establish le Brocquy's reputation as an interpretative draftsman of considerable originality.
The Táin lithographs | The Táin chronology 1967 | The Tain chronology 1969
Arts Council News Statement: Tuesday 6 February 2007
Arts Council welcomes the conferring of the freedom of the City of Dublin on Louis le Brocquy and Thomas Kinsella
The Arts Council, the Irish Government agency for developing the Arts, today welcomed the news that Dublin City Council has agreed to confer the freedom of the City on artist Louis le Brocquy and poet Thomas Kinsella. Both were born in Dublin and are internationally recognised for their contributions to the arts world. Louis Le Brocquy is now 90 years old and his work has spanned 70 years. Thomas Kinsella is 79 and published his first book of poetry over 50 years ago. They collaborated on one distinguished occasion when le Brocquy illustrated Kinsella ’s translation of the Táin with a series of brush drawings. Speaking today, Mary Cloake, Director of the Arts Council, said: “We are delighted that Dublin City Council has decided to acknowledge these celebrated artists with the freedom of the city. Both Louis le Brocquy and Thomas Kinsella have done so much for both art and literature over many years and it is indeed an honour to have two prominent members of the arts community receive the freedom of the City. Both men are so very well respected for their work and have received many distinguished awards in the past, it is now right that they are awarded the highest honour their City can bestow”. They will be honoured at a ceremony in the Mansion House in May of this year.
Issued By: Joe Stuart, Press and Communications Officer, Arts Council, Tel 01 6180 235