Elderly Irish dare to bare all for painter

Tue Nov 17, 2009 6:22am EST
 
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By Antonella Ciancio

DUBLIN (Reuters Life!) - An American-born artist's nude portraits of elderly Irish people has fueled a debate over age, modesty and changing values in a society recovering from the rise and sudden fall of the "Celtic Tiger."

Daniel Mark Duffy, born in the United States into an Irish family, said his paintings of men and women over 40 celebrated life and sexuality over the fear of aging.

"As we age our viability and visibility wanes," the 48-year-old artist told Reuters in a phone interview.

"These are really intimate portraits. Once we put fear aside, there were just two human beings (painter and model) talking about their breasts, their stomach, their body changing."

"It is the patina and texture of a 99-year-old man's hands and feet or the definitive swollen belly of a 93-year-old woman that demands my consideration," he said.

Duffy drew both praise and criticism last year when his portrait of 65-year-old Irish writer Nell McCafferty went on display in Dublin.

Some critics argued the feminist campaigner, posing in her bathroom, contradicted everything she stood for. Irish art fans logged on to websites to urge her to put her clothes back on.

McCafferty said she was delighted with the portrait.   Continued...