[intro]“I Enjoy the Third Dimension”[/intro]
Roberta Smith writes a wonderful obituary in the New York Times of Barry Flanagan, the British sculptor who seemed to reject avant garde art in favor of leaping hares:
Mr. Flanagan’s apostasy was in many ways the defining characteristic of his career. It perplexed and dismayed his admirers, turning many of them into detractors. But the hares also made him popular and wealthy, with work represented in scores of museums, several urban plazas and a few corporate lobbies. In addition, these works injected an unusual formal whimsy and subversive irreverence into the often staid convention of bronze figurative sculpture.
Mr. Flanagan did not consider his early work experimental and saw no reversal in his development, a word he seemed to find suspect. In an often quoted statement published in Studio International in 1967 he wrote: “One merely causes things to reveal themselves to the sculptural awareness. It is the awareness that develops, not the agents of the sculptural phenomena.” […]
His early works included a pile of sand, stacks of folded burlap and dozens of short lengths of thick rope spread on the floor. He was then perhaps best known for sewn burlap shapes filled with sand, which he called “an elegant solution to the problem of making a three-dimensional form.”
His efforts paralleled and sometimes preceded innovations of Americans like Robert Smithson, Carl Andre, Eva Hesse and Richard Tuttle. His pieces were variously classified as Process Art, Arte Povera or Anti-Form. […]
Mr. Flanagan began sculpturing hares in 1978 or ’79, working from a dead one bought from a butcher, partly because there wasn’t much else to buy that day and partly because of a vivid memory he had of watching a hare leap across a field in Sussex. […]
But there was more to Mr. Flanagan than hares; his bronze menagerie included elephants, cougars and unusually graceful horses. Beyond bronze, he roamed through the history of sculpture and its materials, carving in stone, working in ceramics, moving between abstraction and figuration and occasionally even using found objects. He was also a fluid draftsman, a frequent etcher and a sometime photographer. Little of his work beside the bronzes has been exhibited in the United States.
Barry Flanagan, British Sculptor of Sly Works, Dies at 68 (New York Times)