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Patrick Ireland, back from the grave

The artist Brian O'Doherty reflects on the Bloody Sunday report.

At the opening of the exhibition, the artist reflected on his work and influences along with his American wife, the art historian Barbara Novak, with whom he has jointly donated the Novak O’Doherty Collection to the museum.

O'Doherty trained as a medical doctor in Dublin and at Cambridge and Harvard, before abandoning medicine in the late 1950s for the life of an artist, critic, writer and filmmaker in New York. His influential book, “Inside the White Cube: Ideologies of the Gallery Space,” led to a shift in thinking about how modern art interacts with gallery spaces.

Few people in the United States art world knew until recently about his name change, or that the Brian O’Doherty who wrote “The Deposition of Father McGreevy,” a novel of rural Ireland that was short-listed for the 2000 Booker Prize, was the celebrated Patrick Ireland with whom they were familiar. The search for identity was central to O’Doherty’s life, and the plurality of selves was frequently the subtext of his work. The artist, who in fact once said, “All identity is a fiction,” also used three other alter egos: Sigmund Bode, Mary Josephson and William Maginn. They all remain "alive" — at least, O’Doherty hasn’t formally buried them yet.