Though he traversed a range of materials throughout his diverse and highly lauded career, Barry Flanagan OBE RA is best known for his distinctive bronze sculptures of animals. His most common motif—the hare—has become a staple of the most esteemed collections and is regularly a part of public art displays world-wide.Read More
Barry Flanagan was born in 1941 in North Wales, and embraced the physical world of sculpture at the early age of 17. He studied at Birmingham College of Art and then St Martin’s School of Art in London, where he later taught. In the 1960s, he experimented with a variety of unconventional media, such as canvas and sand. He later turned to more permanent materials, such as stone, steel, and bronze.
Barry Flanagan established a name for himself early in his career as a leading artist of Britain’s avantgarde. While still a student, his fabric-and-plaster sculpture aaing j gni aa (1965) was praised for its innovative use of non-traditional materials, and was acquired by Tate in 1969.
Barry Flanagan started creating sculptures of hares in the late 1970s, after witnessing one run on the Sussex Downs, emphasising in his work the animal’s energy and humour. Inspired by Russian ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinsky and French sculptor Auguste Rodin, the artist created the bronze ‘Nijinsky Hare’ series, for which he captured the essence of movement in a resolutely modern style.
Barry Flanagan took a particular interest in the human-like nature of the hare, with many of the artist’s hare sculptures depicting the creature in a highly anthropomorphic manner. In Empire State with Bowler, Mirrored (1997), a pair of hares with the physique and stance of a human stand on one foot, atop an Empire State Building each.
Barry Flanagan represented Britain at the Venice Biennale in 1982, and in 1991 he was elected to the Royal Academy and received an OBE. Exhibitions of his work have been held at prestigious institutions such as Fondazione Prada, Milan (2013); Whitechapel Gallery, London (2009); and the Irish Museum of Modern Art (2006).
The works of Barry Flanagan are held in significant collections, including that of Tate, which on its own holds more than 100 Flanagan pieces. The artist died in 2009 in Ibiza of motor neurone disease. In 2017, the Estate of Barry Flanagan collaborated with Waddington Custot to produce the first comprehensive monograph on the artist.
Biography by Casey Carsel | Ocula | 2020