John Behan RHA is firmly established as a sculptor of international stature and can be credited with playing a major part in the development of sculpture in Ireland over the last fifty years. Born in Dublin in 1938, he began an apprenticeship in metalwork and welding before moving on to formal training at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, Ealing Art College in London and the Royal Academy School in Oslo. He has been awarded many honours over the years and became a member of the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1990, having been an Associate of the Academy since 1973. He is also a member of Aosdána and was conferred an honorary Doctor of Literature by NUI Galway in 2000.
Behan’s work is highly expressive; his pieces are marked by an initially perceived roughness that quickly melts into a surprising delicacy of form. Crafted in a white or brown patina or with a polished bronze surface, each piece is as individual and captivating as the next, reflecting often-difficult themes of Irish history and identity in a remarkably subtle way.
Behan is known for his remarkable and numerous public sculptures, such as the vast ‘National Famine Memorial’ in County Mayo (26 x 20ft) or ‘Arrival’ (21 x 24ft) sited at the United Nations building in New York. His work is included in many private collections including that of Mary McAleese, Mary Robinson, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and Bill and Hillary Clinton, also Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane, the Crawford Municipal Gallery and the National Gallery of Ireland.