Barry Flanagan



In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Barry Flanagan 1941–2009
Etching and aquatint on paper
Image: 165 × 204 mm
Presented by Sue Flanagan, the artist's former wife 1985

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.

P02727 O'Rembrandt 1970

Etching 165 x 204 (6 1/2 x 8) on paper 188 x 224 (7 3/8 x 8 7/8); plate-mark 165 x 204 (6 1/2 x 8); printed by the artist in an edition of 30
Inscribed ‘7/30 Flanagan /70' b.r. of image; printed inscription ‘OK' near top centre of image and ‘O'Rembrandt.R.1638' in reverse near bottom edge of image
Lit: Lewis Biggs, Barry Flanagan - A Visual Invitation, Sculpture 1967-1987, exh. cat. Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1987, p.33

This is the first etching made by Flanagan, who was then teaching part-time at St Martin's School of Art. It was inspired by an etching by Rembrandt entitled ‘Adam and Eve' (repr. Barry Flanagan Prints 1970-1983,, Tate Gallery 1986, p.9) which shows Adam attempting to prevent Eve from eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. Interested on this occasion in the bottom part of the original print, Flanagan drew in outline Eve's feet and the lower of the two feet of Adam and carefully copied Rembrandt's signature. In jest Flanagan, who is descended from Irish stock, altered the signature to ‘O'Rembrandt'. In 1977 the artist returned to the Rembrandt etching in ‘Eve' (P02811) and ‘Rembrandt Studies' (P02815).

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions Including Supplement to Catalogue of Acquisitions 1982-84, Tate Gallery, London 1988, pp.333-5

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