Barry Flanagan (British, 1941-2009) Untitled (carving no. 6/84) 1984

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Lot 31AR TP
Barry Flanagan
(British, 1941-2009)
Untitled (carving no. 6/84)
1984

Sold for £ 77,500 (US$ 100,236) inc. premium
Barry Flanagan (British, 1941-2009)
Untitled (carving no. 6/84)
1984

Travertino Toscano marble

182.9 by 71.1 by 76.2 cm.
72 by 28 by 30 in.

This work was executed in 1984.

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Private Collection, UK (acquired directly from the artist by the previous owner)
    Thence by descent to the present owner



    Rightly recognised as one of Britain's greatest sculptors of the Twentieth Century, it is Barry Flanagan's broad range that defines the artist's oeuvre. Although he experimented with drawing, printing, and even performance, producing art which was sometimes abstract, sometimes figurative, often not quite one or the other, it is sculpture for which he is best known today. Always intrigued by the potential of material and the possibilities of working in three-dimensions, Flanagan's sculptures display a unique approach towards form and space. The three following works, all of which have until now remained in the same prestigious private collection since being acquired directly from the artist himself, display Flanagan's profound connection with stone, a material which he seemed to instinctively understand. Flanagan's talents as a natural abstractionist and his ability to draw the best out of his materials is seen to greatest effect with these hand-carved, unique sculptures where the stone's inherent qualities are used to bring the works almost magically, to life.

    Barry Flanagan himself was a man who loved to roam, an enigmatic figure with a taste for the bohemian and whimsical. Although born in North Wales, he later became an Irish citizen. While he spent much of his later life moving between his studios in Dublin and Ibiza, he was often to be found driving round Europe in a Rolls Royce pulling an Airstream trailer in its wake. He studied sculpture at St Martin's School of Art between 1964 and 1966, and made a name for himself with sculptures created from unusual media such as fabric, rope and sand. His work later evolved in various directions, incorporating a number of distinctive styles in the process. He turned his attention to stone in the 1970s, and learned how to work it by taking a job in an Oxford stonemason's yard. An intensely private and reserved man, Flanagan rarely gave interviews, but his work speaks for itself. In the subtle folds and curves of these sculptures, in their solid forms and soft edges, the simple beauty of the stone is exposed; nature and art combine in a powerful union.

    Though strikingly large in scale, these sculptures naturally connect with the spaces they inhabit. Sprouting up from the earth, biomorphic yet intentional in their composition, their unexpected presence is almost uncanny. Reminiscent perhaps of the works of Constantin Brâncuși and Jean Arp, also echoing ancient standing stones or dolmens, they seem to exude both a radical modernist vision and a paradoxical sense of age old mystery. For Flanagan, stone was perfect for the creation of beautiful abstract works like these: "Stone doesn't demand the presence of figuration. It is more abstract as a medium, I think, mainly because it's already there to start with" (the artist in: Enrico Juncosa Ed., Barry Flanagan: Sculpture 1965-2005, Dublin 2006, p. 63). Appearing on the market for the first time, these works offer us a fascinating lesson in the art of abstract sculpture, embodying as they do the otherworldly vision of a true original.
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