Artist biography

English sculptor and printmaker. He studied architecture briefly and then sculpture at Birmingham College of Art and Crafts, and at St Martin's School of Art, London (1964–6). Alternating between abstract and figurative images and a variety of techniques, Flanagan maintained a consistently ironic attitude towards sculpture, an emphasis on the intrinsic qualities of the materials and an idiosyncratic lightness of touch that endowed the objects with a sense of vulnerability and impudence.

During the late 1960s Flanagan created temporary works of poured sand and draped cloth and his own upright biomorphic forms made of stitched, dyed hessian filled with plaster and sand. After 1973 most of his works were free-standing, permanent objects. Initially lumps of quarried Hornton stone or marble were incised sparingly with spirals and simple drawings. Displayed on plinths that were often made of stacked blocks, these stones were part of the quizzical, iconic side of Flanagan's art.

The popularity and distinctiveness of Flanagan's work greatly increased when he began making sculptures of hares. Flanagan's other favoured animals, the elephant, dog, cougar and horse, were equally primitive anatomically and yet anthropomorphically expressive even when enlarged to monumental scale. From 1970 Flanagan made prints whose animal and other themes related to his sculpture.In an abstract practice that began in 1981, he asked Italian carvers to enlarge and interpret in marble his casually twisted forms of soft clay. The results frequently had an eroticism equal to that of the animal sculptures and bronzes made of clay and wax.

Barry Flanagan: Object Sculptures (exh. cat., Krefeld, Mus. Haus Lange, 1969)
When Attitudes Become Form (exh. cat., Berne, Ksthalle; Krefeld, Kaiser Wilhelm Mus.; London, ICA; 1969)
Barry Flanagan: Sculpture, 1966–1976 (exh. cat. by C. Lampert, Eindhoven, Stedelijk Van Abbemus.; London, Serpentine Gal.; 1977) [cat. rev. for London exh.]
Barry Flanagan: Sculpture (exh. cat. by T. Hilton and M. Compton, Brit. Council Col., 1982)
Barry Flanagan: Sculptures (exh. cat. by C. Lampert, Paris, Pompidou, 1983)
Barry Flanagan: Prints, 1970–83 (exh. cat., ed. E. Knowles; London, Tate, 1986)
Barry Flanagan (exh. cat. by E. Juncosa and J. Thompson, Madrid, Fund. ‘La Caixa', 1993)


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