Barry Flanagan (1941-2009)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE IMPORTANT EUROPEAN COLLECTION
Barry Flanagan (1941-2009)

Nijinski Hare

Details
Barry Flanagan (1941-2009)
Nijinski Hare
inscribed twice with the artist’s monogram, numbered ‘4/7’ and stamped twice with the AA Foundry mark (on the base and lower edge of the leg)
bronze with a dark grey patina
overall: 94 7/8 x 45 ½ x 32 5/8in. (241 x 115.5 x 83cm.)
Executed in 1989, this work is number four from an edition of seven, plus three artist's casts.
Provenance
Waddington Galleries, London.
Anon. sale, Christie's London, 22 April 1998, lot 109.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Literature
Barry Flanagan, exh. cat., Tokyo, Fuji Television Gallery, 1991 (another cast illustrated, p. 4).
E. Urbanelli (ed.), Imaginary Animals, New York 1996 (another cast illustrated, p. 57).
Exhibited
London, Waddington Galleries, Barry Flanagan, 1990, p. 14 and p. 39, no. 6 (another cast exhibited and illustrated in colour, p. 15).
New York, The Pace Gallery, Barry Flanagan, 1990, no. 6 (another cast exhibited and illustrated in colour, unpaged).
Madrid, Fundación La Caixa, Barry Flanagan, 1993-94, p. 29 and p. 98 (another cast exhibited and illustrated in colour, p. 99). This exhibition later travelled to Nantes, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes.
County Kilkenny, Kells Priory, Sculpture at Kells, 1999 (another cast exhibited).
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Katharine Arnold

Lot Essay

‘The great bronze hares which Barry Flanagan has been producing since the 1980s are one of the most personal and recognisable artistic endeavours of the second half of this century. Spectacular in size, bitingly ironic and bold, as well as terribly individualistic, they are totally unlike what we normally see in museums and galleries around the world’
–Enrico Juncosa


Stretching over two metres in height, Barry Flanagan’s Nijinski Hare (1989) stands among his most iconic creations. With its dynamic form and long, lithe gait, the hare first appeared in Flanagan’s practice in the late 1970s, and has since become synonymous with his oeuvre. Inspired by a sighting of the creature bounding across the Sussex Downs, the artist began to move away from the conceptual practice he had pursued during the 1960s, adopting a new figurative idiom rooted in the medium of bronze sculpture. Within the pantheon of animals he depicted throughout his lifetime, Flanagan was particularly drawn to the hare’s rich mythological associations. In 1979 he encountered the book The Leaping Hare by George Ewart Evans and David Thompson, which outlined the animal’s mercurial connotations: from immortality and fertility in Chinese and ancient Egyptian cultures, to deception, trickery, cleverness and triumph. As a sculptor, Flanagan was equally fascinated by the animal’s fluid, anthropomorphic anatomy. In the present work, he invokes the celebrated ballet dancer and choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky: star of the Ballet Russes during the early 1900s, renowned for his extraordinary leaps and his talent for characterisation. The ‘Nijinsky Hare’ would become one of the most recognisable archetypes within Flanagan’s body of hare sculptures, recurring throughout his oeuvre. The present work was acquired by the current owner over twenty years ago, and has remained in their private collection ever since.

Flanagan’s hares are defined by their near-human characteristics and physical wit. As the artist explains, ‘Thematically the choice of the hare is really quite a rich and expressive sort of model ... if you consider what conveys situation and meaning and feeling in a human figure, the range of expression is in fact far more limited than the device of investing an animal – a hare especially – with the attributes of a human being’ (B. Flanagan, quoted in Barry Flanagan. Sculpture and Drawing, exh. cat., Kunstausstellung der Ruhrfestspiele, Recklinghausen, 2002, p. 31). Clarrie Wallis further suggests that by casting the hare as a metamorphic shape-shifter – a surrogate for human form – Flanagan establishes the creature as a cipher for his own elusive character (C. Wallis, ‘The business is in the making’, in Barry Flanagan: Early Works 1965-1982, exh. cat., Tate Britain, London, 2011, p. 33). On a broader level, the hare may be understood as a signifier for the rich diversity of human emotion and experience. As Paul Levy has written, ‘the existentialist action makes us free, and nothing is more free, vital, spontaneous and alive – from Aesop’s hare outrun by the tortoise to Bugs Bunny – than a capering hare. In France and most of Central Europe, it is the hare that lays eggs at Easter and so promises renewal. In fact, Flanagan’s hares do not carry much of this historic symbolic freight; they simply frolic freely and expressively. They don’t symbolise life, they live it’ (P. Levy, ‘Joy of Sculpture,’ in Barry Flanagan: Linear Sculptures in Bronze and Stone Carvings, exh. cat., Waddington Galleries, London, 2004, unpaged).

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