Barry Flanagan was one of Britain’s most original and inventive artists and a key figure in the development of British and international sculpture. He is best known for the large-scale bronze hare sculptures that he began producing in the early 1980s and that can be seen in many galleries and public spaces around the world. The success of these pieces has tended to obscure the equally important and very different work that characterised his early period. Made from materials as varied as cloth, plaster, sand, hessian and rope, these works highlight a concern with material properties and processes – a concern that is at the heart of his practice.
A contemporary of Gilbert & George, Flanagan studied sculpture at St Martin’s School of Art from 1964 to 1966. The exhibition takes this period as a starting point and reveals the impact of this early work on his later development towards casting in bronze, which he began in 1979. This is the first major retrospective of Flanagan’s work in London since 1983, and by focusing on his early works, shows how this radical and imaginative artist challenged the very nature of sculpture in his time.
The exuberant early works of the British sculptor Barry Flanagan are still a delight.
This exhibition brassily shows off the pleasure-giving unruliness of his youth.
Time and again, we see Flanagan bringing the best out of his unpromising materials, shedding new light on traditional sculptural concerns such as weight and matter, surface and space.