Le Brocquy at 90
Louis le Brocquy, the elder statesman of Irish art, is currently the subject of a number of celebratory exhibitions and events to mark his ninetieth birthday, not only in Ireland but also in Paris and London. The celebrations and accolades have been well-earned after more than seven decades during which this self-taught artist has come to be recognised both at home and internationally as the foremost Irish painter of the 20th century.
It is half a century since he represented Ireland at the Venice Biennale, where he won a major prize for one of his most familiar works, A Family, a key painting in le Brocquy's earlier Cubist style which now hangs in our National Gallery. It was not always so popular or acknowledged as an important work of art. The painter was accused of producing a "diabolical caricature" when it was first put on show in Dublin in the early 1950s; critics of the day found it repugnant and the Municipal Gallery of Modern Art turned it down. It was not the only time that the city disgraced itself in the rejection of a significant work of art.