Barry Flanagan

Withdrawal From Stone Wall Street

1970, reprinted c.1983

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Barry Flanagan 1941–2009
Etching and aquatint on paper
Image: 247 × 245 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.

P02729 Withdrawal From Stone Wall Street 1970, reprinted c.1983

Etching and aquatint 247 x 245 (9 3/4 x 9 5/8) on cream Vélin d'Arches paper 381 x 567 (15 x 22 3/8); plate-mark 247 x 245 (9 3/4 x 9 5/8); printed by Colin Dyer c.1983; not editioned
Printed inscription `withdrawal from stone wall street' towards bottom edge of image and `five' towards top right of image; stamped with artist's monogram `f' below image b.r.
Lit: [Elizabeth Knowles (ed.)], Barry Flanagan Prints 1970-1983, exh. cat., Tate Gallery, 1986, pp.9 and 28

Like P02732, this print shows a banknote-shape inscribed `five'. This was one of the printed `Funds' the artist made in 1969 (see Barry Flanagan Sculpture, exh. cat., British Pavilion, XXXX Biennale, Venice 1982, p.82 fig.19) as an expression of ideas he held about the relationship between art and money at a time when he himself was struggling to make ends meet. Elizabeth Knowles explains:

Flanagan printed as many fives, tens and fifties as were appropriate to sale values at his gallery (Rowan Gallery) by hand from lino blocks with the idealistic notion that he would exchange these for works from, for instance, Carl André, Sol LeWitt or Robert Ryman which Flanagan would then present to the Tate (p.9).

Flanagan was very much concerned with the relationship between artists and commercial institutions in this period. He was a member of the Artist's Placement Group which sought to bypass the dependence of artists on private patronage by placing them in industrial firms as salaried workers. In 1971 Flanagan distributed in cash and postal orders what he thought to be the paltry sum paid to him for participation in the exhibition `Art Spectrum London' held at The Alexandra Palace, London. He also painted a wall at the going rate, 50p a yard, for the Lisson Gallery `Wall Show'. About his participation in this exhibition Flanagan has stated, `there was a lot of interest in the possibility of earning an honest wage from industry'. Elizabeth Knowles quotes the artist as saying that the `concern for money' expressed in his prints showing lino-printed `Funds' derived `from a poetical point of view rather than a political one' (p.29). She also suggests that Flanagan's preoccupation with money sprang at least in part from his situation as `an indigent artist faced with the might of the banking system' (p.10). Although the title indicates a play on `Wall Street' and `stonewalling', the artist has said that he did not intend in this work any criticism of financial institutions.

For other depictions of hands in the act of drawing see entries on P02726, P02728, P02731 and P02732.

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 335

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