Barry Flanagan (b. 1941, Prestatyn, North Wales; d. 2009, Ibiza, Spain), is one of Britain’s pre-eminent sculptors. Flanagan’s monumental, bronze sculpture, ‘Composition’ (2008), presents his emblematic Nijinski hare, supported by a trio of elephants caught during their circus balancing act. The tiered arrangement and dancing hare recall Flanagan’s musical background and theatricality—he was born into a family of music hall performers. The sculpture shows the artist’s ability to infuse wit with poignancy, the juxtaposition of the lightness of the hare against the weight and solidity of the elephant. An admirer of Rodin, the textural qualities of the elephants’ weathered skin and the supple limbs of the hare record the sculptor’s thumb. The anthropomorphic qualities of the mercurial hare evoke power, strength and vulnerability, a self-portrait of the artist.
Barry Flanagan, Composition, 2008
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