Published by Irish Museum of Modern Art. Edited with text by Seán Kissane. Foreword by Sarah Glennie. Text by James Hanley, et al.
A strange and exotic presence in Irish art, "standing alone" and "very un-Irish" were some of the epithets used to describe Patrick Hennessy (1915–80), one of Ireland’s most successful realist painters in the postwar period. Hennessy was educated at Dundee College of Art and in 1937 won a scholarship to Paris where he worked for a time under Fernand Léger. He fused the Surrealist subjectivity he learned there with realism to create works unlike anything being made at the time, including portraits, landscapes, equine studies and still-lifes that found a steady market in Ireland, the UK and the USA. But he painted male nudes and portraits of handsome men that puzzled critics who branded him "something of an outsider." At a time when people were persecuted for their sexual orientation, he made works containing narratives of homosexual life that align him with the queer-art movement that emerged in the 1970s. This publication sheds light on this critically neglected artist and reflects on what his work might mean to an audience today.