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Brian O'Doherty, "Transitional Head"

Brian O'Doherty, born 1928
Brian O'Doherty, born 1928
Oil on canvas
Stretcher: 25.4 x 20.3cm (10 x 8")
Frame: 50.5 × 45.7 × 3.8cm (19 7/8 × 18 × 1 1/2")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Barbara Novak in honor of Marc Pachter
Restrictions & Rights
© Brian O’Doherty
Object number
Exhibition Label
Although Brian O’Doherty has engaged with multiple concepts of identity throughout his career, he is best known for inventing the persona of Patrick Ireland in 1972, partially in response to the Bloody Sunday killings that year in Northern Ireland. “Patrick Ireland” created richly conceptual works of art for thirty-six years, until O’Doherty symbolically killed and buried him in 2008.
O’Doherty moved from Ireland to the United States for a medical fellowship at Harvard in 1957. Although he had previously been drawing and painting, at this time he determined to leave the medical profession and work in the visual arts. Transitional Head, a rare self-portrait painting, dates from that year of personal change. The artist used bars of pigment to define the picture plane and deny the apparent three-dimensionality of the painted head.
The artist; Barbara Novak; gift 2007 to NPG
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
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National Portrait Gallery Collection