Guerrilla artist hangs nude Cowen paintings

Saturday 28 March 2009 14.46
RTÉ Apology - An apology was issued to the Taoiseach the night after the original story was broadcast
RTÉ Apology - An apology was issued to the Taoiseach the night after the original story was broadcast

Editor's Note: On the 23 March 2009 Nine News, we carried a report on the illicit hanging of caricatures of the Taoiseach in two Dublin galleries. RTE news would like to apologise for any personal offence caused to Mr Cowen or his family or for any disrespect shown to the office of Taoiseach by our broadcast.

Who sneaked nude paintings of Taoiseach Brian Cowen into two of Dublin's most prestigious museums?

That is the mystery surrounding what could be an act of artistic expression or civil disobedience.

An anonymous donor hung the painting in the gallery of the Royal Hibernian Academy beside the regular collection. When a visitor asked staff about the new nude, it was removed.

'We certainly can't condone work coming in this way,' said Rebecca Gale of the gallery, barely containing her smile.

She added that their open submission show, which opens in May, is the best route to get work onto the gallery walls.

'We'll be keeping an eye out for work coming in this way from now on,' Ms Gale said of the guerrilla tactic.

Another painting of An Taoiseach, this time naked on a toilet, was found at the National Gallery. It hung for 20 minutes before it was spotted, removed and handed over to gardaí.

One woman who saw the nude at the Royal Hibernian Gallery offered to buy it.

'It's reasonably well painted. It's not the worst thing I've ever seen,' conceded James O'Halloran of Adam's Fine Art Auctioneers & Valuers.

But the Royal Hibernian cannot sell it because it does not own it.

However, if the painter gets in touch with the gallery, they may just have a buyer - and a lot of questions from the gardaí.