A restless Irish polymath who had trained as a doctor in Dublin, he found his way to New York and became a leading figure in the city’s bustling art scene….
Brian O’Doherty, an Irish polymath who in the early 1960s left his medical career behind to reinvent himself as a leading figure in the New York art scene, both as a critic and as a creator, died on Monday at his home in Manhattan. He was 94.
His wife, Barbara Novak, confirmed the death.
Mr. O’Doherty made his mark in a wide range of cultural endeavors: He worked as a journalist, an editor, an artist, a documentarian and, late in life, an acclaimed novelist….
By the time he received a master’s degree, in 1960, Mr. O’Doherty had largely left medicine behind. He applied to be the host of a half-hour program about art, broadcast on the public television station WGBH in Boston. He got the job thanks to the support of his predecessor, Dr. Novak, whom he then started dating.
Memories from colleagues
Paul Noble: He wrote and hosted “Invitation to Art” from the Museum of Fine Arts in live broadcasts Monday nights for three years before leaving for New York with bride Barbara Novak in 1961. A uniquely multi-talented artist, writer, critic, novelist.
Fred Barzyk: WGBH’s first TV personality when he did a show at the MFA. Then, NBC offered him his own show, he moved to NYC, the format failed, and then Brian became the Art Critic for the Today show for 12 years. He was editor of the nation’s most important art magazine, Art in America. He gave that up to move to Washington to the NEA. While there he helped fund the Video Art Movement (WGBH and I benefited a lot) and poured more monies into artists’ hands. A wonderful and empathetic artist and critic.