Brian O’Doherty the International (Irish born) artist established a home in Todi in 1975. O’Doherty , (now aged 94 years) is probably a polymath. That is, a person who has an encyclopeadic range of knowledge with an IQ above 180! He has had noteable career and life as a medico, novelist, artist, art critic, academic and an editor of Art in America and an on-air art critic for NBC. He is responsible for coining the descriptor for the modern gallery in his book Inside the White Cube : The ideology of the Gallery Space (1976).
In The modern art collection, Trinity College Dublin, David Scott writes that:
Much influenced by Marcel Duchamp he (O’Doherty) is an essentially interrogative artist, constantly questioning artistic conventions and the assumptions on which we base our aesthetic judgements.
Brian and his wife Barbara Novak, university professor and art critic, bought a nineteenth-century house in Todi in 1975, in its historic center, 50 metres from the Piazza Del Poppolo. They lived there during their holidays and enjoyed an active life, immersed in the natural beauty of Umbria, also known as the Green heart of Italy.
Relaxation soon to a back seat when in 1977, Brian and Barbara started painting the interior of the the house, and in so doing, creating an extraordinary work of art, now called Casa Dipinta (the “Painted House”). Brian and his wife have left the house and now, presumably, retired to their home in USA, and the Commune (Town Council) maintain the house which has become a museum attraction for art loving visitors.
The house is well signed and is located not far from Piazza del Popolo, onVia di Santa Prassede, at the intersection with Via delle Mura Antiche. The building, itself consists of three floors, and is completely painted inside with frescoed geometric fields of colour. Here and there is the depiction of the ancient Ogham alphabet, in use in Ireland until the 7th century. Brian O'Doherty transformed this house into a work of art , using a language that in those years he was perfecting and that is the reproduction of three words ...“One, Here, Now”. The House is now seen as become an expression of the passion for Todi and for art held dearly, and now eternally, by the couple.
In addition to the coloured frescoes, three installations made from string were erected by the artist in the bedroom and living room the installation. More ususally this type of installation is seen in the exhibitions of the artist in museums and galleries. O’Doherty created a total of 116 installations set up in the most important modern art museums in the world and only some of them are still visible: in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, Dublin and, in Todi.
Notwithstanding this creativity the house is still a real home, perfectly furnished, where the spouses lived when until they return to their home in USA. To visit the home of Brian and Barbara O’Doherty is like walking into their lives. Two renarkable lives in which art is combined with everyday life, including very personal objects, furnishings, and the everyday of a normal household.
Visiting the Casa Dipinta is an inspiring journey into the souls of two highly creative people who made a home in Todi.