Throughout his career, Barry Flanagan has been challenging the status quo in sculpture. As a student in London in the 1960s, when other artists were using industrial methods and materials, Flanagan began shaping such unorthodox substances as sand, burlap, felt, and plastic into ephemeral shapes, focusing on the process of artmaking rather than the finished, permanent object. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, by contrast, when figurative sculpture was hardly the norm, Flanagan began making representational images (hares, helmets, and horses) using surprisingly traditional materials and processes: lost-wax bronze casting, gilding, stone carving. Here, an exuberant, bounding hare balances atop a classically formed bell, providing an interesting study in contrasts. The sinuous lines and playful vitality of the hare counter-balance the elegant formality of the bell, which evokes centuries of the bronze-casting tradition. The novel juxtaposition of the two forms—both symbols of fertility and both frequent motifs in Flanagan’s art—conjures up new and fantastic associations.
© 1998 Walker Art Center