Belfast Telegraph

Irish artist Louis le Brocquy dies

Irish President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Enda Kenny have led tributes to renowned artist Louis le Brocquy, who has died at the age of 95.

The painter, best known for his portraits of great literary figures, friends and fellow artists, died at home in Dublin with his wife, Anne Madden, at his side.

Le Brocquy had been ill for the past year.

President Higgins, who with wife Sabina was a friend, described his pioneering style as highly inspirational and genius. "I lament the loss of a great artist and wonderful human being whose works are amongst this country's most valuable cultural assets and are cherished by us all. Louis leaves to humanity a truly great legacy," he said.

In a mark of his standing le Brocquy was the first artist to have his work acquired by the National Gallery of Ireland during his lifetime - the gallery paid a then record 2.75 million euro for A Family for its permanent collection.

The Taoiseach said he had made a highly significant contribution to Irish life with his wide ranging appeal. "Louis's art had a very broad appeal and was admired not only across the world but also by people of all ages and will stand as a lasting legacy to his outstanding artistic prowess," Mr Kenny said. "Perhaps the ultimate statement of his standing is the fact that during his lifetime Louis was the first living painter to be included in the Permanent Irish Collection."

Le Brocquy had two sons with Anne, Pierre, who helped to promote his works, and Alexis who are in Dublin. He also had a daughter Seyre from his first marriage. A self-taught artist, he was highly skilled in the use of tapestry and was regarded as groundbreaking in many of the paintings he produced.

A special commemoration of his life service is planned for St Patrick's Cathedral on Saturday afternoon at 2pm and is open to the public. The burial service will be private.

Born in Dublin in 1916, his work has spanned seven decades with most accolades coming for his evocative portrait heads of, among others, WB Yeats and James Joyce and his friends Samuel Beckett, Francis Bacon, Seamus Heaney and Bono which he began in the late 1960s.

The series grabbed much attention outside the art world, with Irish enterprise and investment gurus using a le Brocquy image to promote the country as a place to do business back in 2006. IDA Ireland also used one of his images of Bono for a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal.

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