Barry Flanagan

untitled (carving no. 13/81)


Not on display

Barry Flanagan 1941–2009
Travertine stone
Object: 355 × 1410 × 585 mm
Purchased 1983

Display caption

This sculpture and 'Carving No. 2', also displayed here, are from a series of thirteen abstract marble carvings made in 1981 at Pietrasanta, the famous Italian centre for stone carving. For all these works Flanagan first made small hand-sized models in clay, rolling, squeezing, and twisting the material. These little shapes were afterwards reinterpreted on a larger scale in marble by skilled craftsmen working under the artist's direction. This collaboration extended to the choice of appropriate materials to carve. Here the finished work clearly shows a scaled-up version of the impression of the artist's fingers where he has squeezed the original small piece of clay.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

T03608 Carving No.13 1981

Limestone 14 × 55 1/2 × 23 (355 × 1410 × 585)
Not inscribed
Purchased from Waddington Galleries (Grant-in-Aid) 1983
Exh: Barry Flanagan Stone and Bronze Sculptures, British Pavilion, XL Biennale, Venice, June–September 1982, Museum Haus Esters, Krefeld, October–December 1982, Whitechapel Art Gallery, January–February 1983 (76, repr. in accompanying book, 15 in Venice leaflet only, 15 in Whitechapel leaflet only); New Art at the Tate Gallery 1983, Tate Gallery, September–October 1983 (not numbered in catalogue)
Lit: Michael Compton, ‘A Developing Practice’, Barry Flanagan, Sculpture, published to coincide with exhibition at British Pavilion, XL Biennale, Venice, London 1982, pp.25–6; Teresa Gleadowe, ‘Stone and Bronze Sculptures’, Barry Flanagan, Stone and Bronze Sculptures, exhibition leaflet, British Pavilion, XL Biennale, Venice 1982; Lynne Cooke, ‘Paris Centre Georges Pompidou, Barry Flanagan’, The Burlington Magazine, CXXV, July 1983, pp.47–8
Also repr: Barry Flanagan Sculptures, exhibition catalogue, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, March–May 1983, p.89; Tema Celeste, exhibition catalogue, Museo Civico d'Arte Contemporanea di Gibellina, Sicily, 1983, p.45

In conversation (16 October 1985) the artist said that the maquette for T03608 was made by taking a piece of wet clay in one hand and squeezing it at one end, then turning it over and squeezing the other end with the same hand; the impressions of his fingers occur at either end but on opposite sides, diagonally across from each other. Michael Compton (in ‘A Developing Practice’, loc.cit., pp.25–6) refers to ‘Carving No.13’ as having an ‘unnamable shape ... whose maquette appears to have been a lump of clay having no preconceived shape, only the imprint of squeezing and gently wringing hands and fingers’ and points to the existence of another version (see reference to ‘Carving No.8’ in entry for T03609) commenting:

such resulting forms would be impossible for the craftsman to conceptualise geometrically or in any other terms other than their very own though lines formed in the model by the flattened overlapping of the pressed clay are interpreted in marble as incisions. The craftsman has formed a fossil fault, which happened to be in the stone, into its prototype in the clay. This piece at the moment represents the furthest extreme of Flanagan's device of extracting lively abstract form from the process of conducted scaling up and interpretation of a composition in one medium by the trained skills of another.

He goes on to mention a new set of carvings in process at the time of writing (in 1982) which included ‘squeeze’ pieces amongst others. Flanagan numbered his stone carvings from the beginning in two successive years; after the thirteen works of 1981, he made another set in 1982, which are numbered 1 to 6. Although the series of both 1981 and 1982 are abstract, the second set is much more obviously so and the earliest two works in the set (both, like T03608, made in Travertine marble) are very closely related in shape (‘Carving No.2’ 1982 was included in Flanagan's exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in 1983 and is illustrated in the catalogue, op.cit.,p.68). From the clay maquette (repr. p.95) small bronzes were made and one example is illustrated in the Paris catalogue, op. cit., p.63. There appear to be similarities between these later more abstract carvings and drawings of October/November 1979, reproduced in Barry Flanagan, Sculpture, fig. 50, p.88 (see also entry for T03609).

This entry has been approved by the artist.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986


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