‘Well with retrospect to the figure modelled in clay, he was the master. You know when you hear a solo musician, a cellist like Pablo Casals playing for instance, you recognise him immediately. Rodin’s the best modeller there’s been. He is the boundless star’ - B. Flanagan
Flanagan looked to the figural tradition of modelling, utilising examples from Ancient Greece, the Masters of the Renaissance, Rodin, who he particularly admired and the Surrealists to create his own dialect of contemporary art. Clarrie Wallis reiterates, ‘The tension between artist and artisan, tradition and anti-tradition – [were] issues that consistently preoccupied him throughout his career’ (C. Wallis and A. Wilson (eds), Barry Flanagan Early Works 1965-1982, London, Tate Gallery, 2012, p. 33). This manipulation of recognisable artistic motifs can be seen to powerful effect in Monument, which bears significant resemblance to Rodin’s famous Gates of Hell, circa 1880-1890, which depicts a scene from ‘The Inferno’, the first section of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. Here he portrays the Three Shades, the souls of the damned, dancing on top of the rock and the Thinker, who sits pensively below, as the figures of hares. Indeed the motif of the Thinker reappears on a number of occasions in Flanagan’s works, such as Thinker on a Rock, 1997 and Thinker on Horse, 2001.