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Bono’s portrait by Louis Le Brocquy is fatherless

Saturday 5 May 2012, by Florian pour U2 France


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Last April, 25th 2012 the Irish painter Louis Le Brocquy died at the age of 95. His name may not ring any bell, yet he made a portrait of Bono in 2003.

Bono, Louis le Brocquy and Bono’s portrait by the painter.

By Pauline - translated by Florian

Louis Le Brocquy is one of the most famous Irish painters, particularly thanks to the great lot of portraits he made. He received two French orders : he was first made Knight of the Legion of Honor in 1975, then Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters in 1999.

He first got influenced by impressionism, then turned towards cubism and developed a taste for abstraction. From the late 50s he dedicates himself entirely to making portraits, then starts in 1964 a series called "Portrait Heads" among which he would paint famous people such as William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, Samuel Becket or even Bono.

Rumor says it’s Bono’s portrait that gave Louis Le Brocquy a worldwide reputation. The painter actually started sketching Bono since 1990. Bono, ’whose spirit and whose radiant energy I admire so much’ said Le Brocquy. In 2003 the National Gallery of Ireland celebrated the reopening of his collection dedicated to portraits, then ordered Louis Le Brocquy a portrait of Bono – which can be seen as a permanent exhibition. The painter, who was careful about his models’ psychology, stated that the challenge was ’to make a recognizable image of Bono’s outward appearance, while attempting to portray what I conceive to be the wavelengths of his inner dynamism’ (both quotes are taken from Louis Le Brocquy’s official website).

The Edge’s wife, Morleigh Steinberg, designed a danced representation of Louis Le Brocquy’s paintings called Cold Dream Color. The performances of her show started in Ireland in November 2010, on that occasion she gave an interview to the Irish Times. Besides, The Edge composed the score of Cold Dream Color along with Paul Shavez.

Ironically, the official U2 website published two days before Louis Le Brocquy’s death an article about Cold Dream Color for its premiere in the United States. This article contains a video sequence showing excerpts from the show as well as musical snippets (in the first song, which seems to come straight from the Passengers album, Edge’s touch is noticeable).

On Wednesday, the four U2 members learned about the death of this painter who also was one of their friends. Through U2.com, they left a message to pay tribute to the artist’s memory :

’From the moment we met him at an Amnesty International event in 1984, our band had a strange intimacy with this giant of the art world – a gentle giant who taught manners to the world around him just by having more of them than anyone else. We were fans but he called us friends, starstruck friends were common in his orbit. To so many of us he  was the brightest star in the firmament, always there to guide, to encourage, to push you to realize your potential… a bit professorial but that was ok… we behaved like a bunch of  students, asking about Beckett, Bacon, Balthus, whoever. He mostly indulged our inquiries. We were, we are, eternally grateful for this education. ’Now the painter that took our breath away as teenagers, the same way Bob Dylan or Patti Smith did, is gone from us but the illumination in the work he has left behind will take some pain out of that loss – and we have his beloved Anne to treasure.’

Bono, his wife Ali, The Edge and Morleigh Steinberg attended the funeral last Saturday, April 28 at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin.

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Sources iconographiques

  • Document (JPEG - 68,9 kb)
    Bono, Louis le Brocquy et le portrait de Bono fait par le peintre.

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