Barry Flanagan Abstract 1972

Artwork details

Artist
Barry Flanagan 1941–2009
Title
Abstract
Date 1972
Medium Etching on paper
Dimensions Image: 200 x 253 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Presented by Sue Flanagan, the artist's former wife 1985
Reference
P02734
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Catalogue entry

This catalogue entry discusses a group of works; details of the individual work are given at the end of the introductory text.

Barry Flanagan born 1941

P02723 - P02834 Group of 112 etchings and linocuts, various sizes. Presented by the artist’s former wife Sue Flanagan 1985

This group of prints represents nearly the entire printed output of the artist up to 1983 and is one of the largest public collections of his prints. The titles were all given by the artist. Those prints bearing the stamped monogram ‘f’ were stamped by the Tate Gallery at the artist’s request.

The artist has said that print-making represents for him a ‘traditional pursuit’. Flanagan began to make prints in 1970. His prints (and drawings) often have a very personal content and can be seen as akin to private memoranda. Sometimes used as gifts for friends, they record aspects of the artist’s personal life. He first published prints with the Rowan Gallery in 1972, a year in which his print-making was prolific. Thereafter he published series of prints with Bernard Jacobson Gallery in 1976 and Waddington Graphics in 1983.

In 1981 Flanagan exhibited a comprehensive range of his prints and drawings at the Mostyn Art Gallery, Llandudno. The exhibition travelled to Mold, Cardiff, Swansea, Southampton and London and then, in 1983, toured in Italy, France and Holland. In the early 1980s Colin Dyer, working with the artist in his studio, completed archival sets of prints using cream Vélin d’Arches paper. Those etchings in the Sue Flanagan donation printed on white paper are generally those which the artist printed at Petersburg Press, at Burleighfield Press (with David Harding) or in his own studio in the early and mid 1970s.

Many of the prints have a small dark rectangle at one of their edges which results from the etching process. David Brown explains:

In the preparation of etching plates, they are ‘smoked’ in a flame to produce a fine, even covering of wax, the plate being held by a pair of tongs and therefore unaffected by the ‘smoking’ process would be waxed later, but with these prints, Flanagan chose to eliminate this final stage leaving a small area etched by acid and absorbing the ink (Barry Flanagan: Etchings and Linocuts, exh. cat., Waddington Graphics 1984, [p.3]).


So characteristic of Flanagan’s etchings is this black mark, it can almost be seen as a second ‘signature’.

These entries are based on conversations with Sue Flanagan and Colin Dyer and have been approved by the artist.

P02734 Abstract 1972

Etching 200 x 253 (7 7/8 x 10) on paper 285 x 387 (11 5/8 x 15 5/8); plate-mark 200 x 253 (7 7/8 x 10); printed by the artist; not editioned
Not inscribed; stamped with the artist's monogram ‘f' below image b.r.
Lit: [Elizabeth Knowles (ed.)], Barry Flanagan Prints 1970-1983, exh. cat., Tate Gallery, 1986, p.29

Elizabeth Knowles writes that the free forms in this print, which were made by painting dilute acid straight onto the plate, ‘are essential natural forms, that is, natural to the medium and natural to the action Flanagan has taken to create the work'. At the same time, the forms appear to be related to the organic shapes of Flanagan's sculptures of the period. Of these Anne Seymour wrote in 1972:

Knobbly and gawky, or round and heavy like Laurel and Hardy, they could slip or slump down in rolls of fat. And as in so much abstract art, they border on the personage, but more perhaps to suggest, beyond the possibility of the changing gestalt, the old parallel of art and life where we never see everything at once, only the parts that things play; they may constitute their essences or they may not. The role of the artist as actor, jig-maker and prophet by accident is a traditional one (The New Art, exh. cat., Hayward Gallery, 1972, p.88).

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions Including Supplement to Catalogue of Acquisitions 1982-84, Tate Gallery, London 1988, pp.333 and 336

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