About the Artists Database

The NIVAL Artists Database has been compiled in order to improve public access to the Library's extensive information files on 20th century and contemporary Irish artists.  These files contain exhibition catalogues, newspaper cuttings and ephemera on over 3,500 artists born or based in Ireland.

The Artists Database is a reference resource providing basic biographical and work details on each artist abstracted from the information contained in the hard copy files held in the Library.  It is important to realise that the records are a summary of the information held in each artist's file.  A visit to NIVAL is recommended to researchers seeking a comprehensive view of the actual files.

Although we have endeavoured to ensure the information is correct, it is inevitable, given the diverse sources of information, that some inaccuracies may occur.  Changes and updates are made on an ongoing basis and the Library welcomes suggestions, criticism, and donations of relevant material.

Filter Artists:

  • Reference Code:IE/NIVAL AR/214
  • First Name: John
  • Last Name: Behan
  • Variant Names: John Behan RHA
  • Gender: Male
  • Date of Birth: 1938
  • Place of Birth: Dublin
  • Nationality: Irish
  • Area Of Practice:
    • Sculpture
    • Painting
  • Artwork Type Technique:
    • Metalwork
    • Site Specific Works
    • Drawings
  • Abstract/Figurative: Abstract
  • Genre:
    • Bronze Sculpture
  • Represented By: Hallward Gallery, Dublin
  • Public Art: Yes
  • Size: 20+
  • Manuscript Material: No
  • Physical Location: Artist Files Collection
  • Public Collection:
    • National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin.
    • Crawford Municipal Gallery, Cork.
    • Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery, Dublin.
    • Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
    • Arts Council of Ireland.


1965 National Portrait Competition. 1st Prize.
1970 Oireachtas. Prize for Sculpture.
1972 Oireachtas. Gold Medal


Graphic Studio Gallery, Dublin. Exhibition Catalogue, 'The Cracked Looking Glass.' 2005.


No Date Apprenticeship in Architectural Metalwork.
No Date Studied Art in Dublin, London and Oslo. (No Details).


Behan's work is predominantly concerned with mythological and historical subjects. Since becoming a member of the Independent Artists group in 1963, Behan has had many major public commissions. These include: The "Special Olympics Sculpture'' in 2003, The 'Famine Ship' in 1997, The 'Two Spires' in 1990 and 'Birds' in 1978. Behan was one of the founder members of The Project Arts Centre, Dublin. Other memberships include The Arts Council of Ireland (1973-1979), The RHA (1973) and Aosdana (1978). File contains newspaper clippings, press releases, price lists, catalogue and images of the artist's work.