Todiguide guide turistiche della Regione Umbria 389 424 62 62

The Painted House


This post is also available in: itItaliano (Italian)

Walking down from Piazza del Popolo along S. Prassede Street  taking Via delle Mura Antiche, you will find a unique artwork: the Painted House.

This lovely townhouse dates back to the 19th century and is located not so far from the main Piazza del Popolo, in one of the oldest medieval districts in town.

Barbara and Brian at home

The owners are Brian O’Doherty (aka Patrick Ireland), an Irish-American artist, and his wife ,Barbara Novak, a very popular American art historian.

The house is not a museum: they still love to come to Todi, spending here some weeks in September, while during the rest of the year they are based in  New York City.

They bought the house in 1975 and, starting from 1977,  Brian is going on painting the house; since his work is not yet over after more than 30 years, he calls it “my work in progress”!

O’Doherty created his alter ego, Patrick Ireland, in 1972  as a protest against the Bloody Sunday (Derry, Ireland). As a recognition of the progress for peace in Ireland, he took a step back in 2008, letting the alter ego die and setting up his burial cerimony in the garden of the Museum for Modern Art in Dublin.

O’Doherty was a pioneer of the conceptual and minimal art (among his best friends we can mention Duchamp and Hopper) , but he choose a very unconventional way of expressing it in the Painted House: he rediscovered the ancient Irish language, called Ogham, which translates the 20 letters of the Roman alphabet into strokes.

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Celtic alphabet in the house

In the house you can also admire some installations, known as Rope Drawings

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Rope Drawing in the house

In short, the Painted House is definitely something unique that you don’t expect to find in a town like Todi… something impossible to describe without looking at it.

Last but not least, the house is deeply soaked with the love that binds the artist to his wife and vice versa. The house is in a certain way showing their love for each other; they are a beloved couple in Todi, thanks to their kindness and politeness.

The house spotted on magazines

The house can be visited by appointment contacting Elisa. More info at SPECIAL ITINERARIES IN TODI

In the house you can also buy the monograph about Brian O’Doherty written by Brenda Moore-McCann   


and the last publication by Brenda, concerning a collection of letters written to her and to some other people by the artist.

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Letters by Brian O’Doherty

Photogallery of the Opening of The Painted House, October 11th 2011

If you want to take a tour of the “Painted House” you can contact Elisa Todiguide tour guide of Umbria  at this number 389 424 62 62 or fill out this form

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