Presented by Waddington Custot
Installation Dates: 12 June – 9 July
Location: Berkeley Square
Barry Flanagan (1941–2009) is perhaps best known for his dynamic, bronze hares, first exhibited in the early 1980s. Characterised by its agility, energy and grace, the hare had for the artist a multitude of symbolic roles in the mythology and folklore of Eastern and Western cultures, representing fertility, longevity, and immortality. One of Flanagan’s earliest renditions of the hare was of the dancing or 'Nijinski' hare which revealed his close interest in the work of Rodin, and in particular Rodin's 1912 small sculpture of the early 20th Century Russian ballet dancer 'Nijinsky’, celebrated for his ability to dance ‘en pointe’ and perform gravity-defying leaps. The figurine's tense pose, limbs coiled like a spring about to release a burst of energy, is transferred to the hare.
The 'Nijinski' hare is one of the most important and revisited characters in Flanagan's work, seen in various combinations and scales, including the monumental, as the late artist described: "scaling up is very important with sculpture. As with any performance, while one is at work, it can take off without altering the basic composition which one has committed oneself to." In this work, which towers at 7 metres high, the 'Nijinski' hare is contrasted against the solidity of the anvil, a nod to the tools of the sculptor – but regardless of scale, it remains characterised by levity.
This work is exhibited on Berkeley Square having travelled the United Kingdom and beyond over the last decade, with exhibitions at the Royal Academy of Arts (2001); Yorkshire Sculpture Park (2004); Irish Museum of Modern Art (2006); and Chatsworth House (2012) among others.
About Barry Flanagan (b. 1941)
Barry Flanagan (b. 1941, Prestatyn, North Wales; d. 2009, Ibiza, Spain) is one of Britain’s major sculptors. Barry Flanagan was born in Prestatyn, North Wales, in 1941, to a family of music hall performers. He graduated from St Martin’s School of Art in London in 1966, where he had already established his reputation as a leading figure of the avant-garde, a writer of concrete poetry and a ’pataphysician, espousing Alfred Jarry’s ‘science of imaginary solutions’. His first solo exhibition was held at Rowan Gallery, London, in the same year. He quickly received international critical acclaim for his intuitive and inventive approach to materials, which aligned him with new art practices and the emergent art movements of Arte Povera, Land Art and Process Art. Flanagan was elected to the Royal Academy of Arts and awarded an OBE in 1991.
Flanagan was included in the important exhibitions of the 1960s, particularly When Attitudes Become Form at the Kunsthalle Bern in 1969. From 1972, following the release of George Ewart Evans and David Thomson’s book The Leaping Hare reassessing the function of public sculpture, Flanagan began to explore more traditional materials and methods, working with stone and bronze, for which he is now best known. He was drawn to the hare for its anthropomorphic potential and rich cultural iconography and his hares have become established as popular landmarks in cities and landscapes worldwide. Today, Flanagan’s characterful bronze hares can be found displayed in numerous public spaces across the world.
Flanagan has been awarded several major surveys at museums worldwide, including a retrospective at Fundación ‘La Caixa’ Madrid in 1993, touring to Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes in 1994; at Kunsthalle Recklinghausen, Germany, in 2002, touring to Musée d’art moderne et d’art contemporain, Nice; at Irish Museum of Modern Art in collaboration with The Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin, in 2006, which included an exhibition of large scale sculptures on O’Connell Street; a retrospective entitled Barry Flanagan: Early works 1965–1982 at Tate Britain in 2011–12.
In 2012 Chatsworth House hosted an outdoor exhibition of Flanagan’s monumental bronze sculptures in collaboration with Sotheby’s. The first comprehensive monograph on Barry Flanagan was published last year in 2017 by Waddington Custot in association with The Estate of Barry Flanagan. In 2018, Paul Kasmin Gallery held a survey of Flanagan’s bronze sculptures in New York. In 2019, IKON Gallery in Birmingham presented a major retrospective of the artist, filling the entire two floors of exhibition space. The exhibition comprised of iconic works from the Estate of Barry Flanagan, Tate, The Arts Council Collection and Southampton City Gallery.
The Estate of Barry Flanagan is represented worldwide by Waddington Custot
Website: Waddington Custot