Tony O'Malley
Irish Abstract Landscape Artist: Biography, Paintings.


Tony O'Malley (1913-2003)

The noted Irish abstract landscape painter Tony O'Malley was born in County Kilkenny in 1913. A self-taught artist, he sketched and painted for pleasure from an early time, but it wasn't until the 1940s when a long battle with tuberculosis disrupted his life and job as a bank official, that he began painting seriously, and in 1951 he began exhibiting his work in public.

In 1955, Tony O'Malley visited the Cornish St. Ives School, then an important centre of abstract landscape painting. He returned again in 1957, and in 1958 retired from the bank to take up painting full time. Due to frustration at the lack of Irish interest in his work, an affinity he felt with the artists in Cornwall, he settled in St Ives in 1960.

For details of painters/sculptors,
see: Abstract Artists Ireland.

For answers to popular queries,
see: Irish Art Questions.

As a painter, O'Malley was drawn to abstract art because he believed it permitted greater self-expression. His modern landscapes are noted for their use of colour and texture as well as an inherent spirituality.

In 1973, Tony O'Malley married and during the mid 1970s he and his wife divided their time between the Bahamas and his native Kilkenny. His Bahamas paintings are full of vibrant colour. In 1990, he moved back to Ireland where three years later he was elected a Saoi of Aosdána. At his death in 2003, he was considered to be one of the leading exponents of modern Irish painting.



During the 1980s and 1990s, Tony O'Malley exhibited regularly at the Taylor Galleries in Dublin, which in 2002 held a retrospective of his artworks on paper. He also enjoyed a number of solo exhibitions at venues such as: Castlefield Gallery, Manchester (1988); Wolf at the Door Gallery, Penzance (1988); West Cork Arts Centre (1991); Butler Gallery, Kilkenny (1992); Crawford Art Gallery, Cork (1994). In 2005, the Irish Museum of Modern Art displayed a major retrospective of his painting and drawing.

Awards and Collections

Tony O'Malley won numerous awards during his art career, including: the IMMA/Glen Dimplex Lifetime Achievement Award, the Oireachtas Exhibition's Douglas Hyde Gold Medal (1981), the Guardian Art Critics Award (1989), and the Irish-American Cultural Award (1989). In 1994, O'Malley received an honorary doctorate from Trinity College, Dublin. His works are represented in a wide range of public and private art collections.

Most Expensive Painting By Tony O'Malley

The auction record for a work by Tony O'Malley was set in 2006, when his landscape painting, entitled Garden Impression, Paradise Island, Bahamas, was sold at James Adams, in Dublin, for €77,000.

More Information About Visual Arts in Ireland

• For a personal assessment of the Top 20 living painters, see: Best Irish Artists.
• For details of other creative practitioners from Ireland, see: Irish Artists: Biographies.
• For more about abstract painters like Tony O'Malley, see: Irish Art Guide.
• For more about abstract art, see: Homepage.

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