Barry Flanagan (1941-2009) Harebell on Portland stone piers 1983

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Lot 9* AR TP
Barry Flanagan
Harebell on Portland stone piers

Sold for £ 525,250 (US$ 724,031) inc. premium
Barry Flanagan (1941-2009)
Harebell on Portland stone piers

incised with the artist's monogram, stamped with the foundry mark AA and numbered 4/5
bronze and stone

289.5 by 246.3 by 172.7 cm.
114 by 97 by 68 in.

This work was executed in 1983, and is from an edition of five numbered versions and three artist's casts.


  • Provenance
    Waddington Galleries, London
    Private Collection, UK
    Selling exhibition: Sotheby's, Windermere, Sotheby's at Isleworth: Monumental, 2005
    Acquired directly from the above by the present owner

    London, Waddington Galleries, Groups VII, 1984, the present example exhibited
    Stockholm, Moderna Museet, Dialog, 1985
    Brussels, Galerie Xavier Hufkens, Barry Flanagan, 1999
    London, Waddington Galleries, Memorial Exhibition, 2009
    London, Waddington Galleries, Barry Flanagan: Works 1966-2008, 2010
    London, Waddington Galleries, Two Pataphysicians, 2014
    Denver, Denver Botanic Gardens, Stories in Sculpture: Selections from the Walker Art Center Collection, 2016
    New York, Kasmin Sculpture Garden, Barry Flanagan, 2020-2021
    Yerevan, Armenia, Cafesjian Center for the Arts, 2005-2020, the present example on permanent display
    Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, 1986- present, another example on permanent display

    Martin Friedman and Marc Treib, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, 1988, Minneapolis 1988
    Marjory Jacobson, Art for work: the new Renaissance in corporate collecting, Boston 1993
    Donald M Reynolds, Masters of American sculpture: the figurative tradition from the American renaissance to the millennium, New York 1993
    Rudi Fuchs and Heinz Tesar, The ESSL Collection: the first view, Cologne 1999
    Jerold S Kayden, Privately Owned Public Space: the New York City Experience, Marblehead 2000
    Francis Morrone, James Iska, The Architectural Guidebook to New York City, Utah 2002
    Chin-Tao Wu, Privatising Culture: Corporate Art Intervention Since The 1980s, London 2003
    Alan Windsor, British Sculptors of the 20th Century, Evanston 2003
    Barry Flanagan, Barry Flanagan, London 2003
    Anne Civardi, Sculpture: Three Dimensions in Art, London 2005
    Juncosa, Enrique (ed.), Barry Flanagan: Sculpture 1965-2005, Dublin 2006
    Gottfried Knapp, Prof Karlheinz Essl, Passion for ART 35th Anniversary of Essl Collection, Vienna 2007
    Jo Melvin, Barry Flanagan: Works 1966-2008, London 2010
    Deirdre Holding, Armenia with Nagorno Karabagh, Chalfont Saint Peter 2011
    Preston, Clare, Jo Melvin, Teresa Gleadowe, Mel Gooding and Bruce McLean, Barry Flanagan, London 2017
    Jo Melvin, The Hare is Metaphor, New York 2018

    Leaping forward with a dynamic, lithe energy that is almost acrobatic, Harebell on Portland stone piers captures Barry Flanagan's most iconic subject, the bronze hare. Executed in the early 1980s, the work comes from a seminal decade that would become a definitive period in the artist's oeuvre. His characterful hares have become established as popular landmarks in cities and landscapes worldwide and are included in institutional collections including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., and the Tate Gallery in London, among others. This present work is from an edition of five, the most prominent of which is in the Minneapolis Sculpture Park on permanent display where it is widely visited and admired.

    1979 marked Flanagan's departure from his post-minimalist works of the 1960s and 1970s where he used 'soft' materials such as hessian, sand and rope and rediscovered bronze casting in a figurative form. Flanagan began to produce a variety of bronze animals, but the hare emerged as his most recognisable subject. Flanagan grew up in Wales where hunters described to him the dynamism and physicality of hares and how their determination was unparalleled as they bounded through the wilderness. However, it was Flanagan's recollection of seeing a hare majestically leaping through the Sussex Downs and upon reading 'The Leaping Hare' by George Ewart Evans and David Thomson, that first inspired him to explore the motif. His earliest work Leaping Hare was exhibited at Waddington Galleries in 1980; it was the debut of what would lay the foundation for his future artistic practice, and two years later, in 1982, he represented Britain at the Venice Biennale.

    Flanagan was fascinated by the hare's anthropomorphic potential - its ability to amplify a range of expressive characteristics and convey meaning beyond what he felt possible in the human form. 'I use the hare as a vehicle to entertain. I abstract from the human figure, choosing the hare to behave as a human occasionally.' (The artist in: Enrique Juncosa, Barry Flanagan Sculpture 1965-2005, exh. Cat, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, 2006). Harebell on Portland stone piers conceived in 1983, exudes playfulness and bountiful energy. Flanagan was fascinated by the fluidity of the hare's anatomy. The hare, who actually delightfully spins on its axle, is depicted mid leap with its out-stretched limbs fully flexed, its ears pull behind him emphasising the velocity of movement, offering an exceptional sense of drama. The hare appears weightless, defying gravity, as it glides over the bell providing a comical contrast to the weightiness of the medium. The solidity of the bell provides further contrast emphasising a force of gravity, whilst also being a symbol of steadfast solidarity.

    Upon leaving St Martin's School of Art in 1966 Flanagan had established himself as a leading figure of the avant-garde. He was fascinated by the movement of 'Pataphysics, a theory defined as a 'science of imaginary solutions'. The ideologies represented an escape from reality that challenged academic seriousness and these principles had a profound influence on the Dada and Surrealist movements. An early member of this movement was Joan Miró, who in 1925 produced Landscape (The Hare). Miró depicts a hare in a vibrant imagined landscape adding a spiralled form and crescent shaped object. The hare challenges the viewer with its fixated eyes characterising its bold spirit. Miró, much like Flanagan, was said to have been inspired by seeing a hare dart across a field. It is considered that Flanagan used the motif of the hare as a metaphor for his own elusive, wild character and in response to the ideologies of 'Pataphysics as a tool against strict avant-garde academicism and the over-intellectualised view of art from that period.

    The present work was acquired by the prominent American collector and philanthropist Gerard L. Cafesjian. Born in 1925 in Brooklyn to Armenian immigrant parents, Mr. Cafesjian became a highly successful editor at West Publishing - a firm specialising in legal materials - and spearheaded the launch of the annual 'Art and the Law' exhibition, for which he received the prestigious Business in the Arts Award. Mr. Cafesjian's passion for collecting began with a childhood fascination with geology and gemstones, which later branched into fine art. Over the years, he patroned and developed personal relationships with world-renowned sculptors and ultimately assembled an impressive collection of both lapidary and fine works of art.

    Harebell on Portland stone piers is a seamless example of Barry Flanagan's masterful work in bronze modelling. He crafts the hare as a mercurial and mischievous figure which is easily recognisable whilst also making a poignant nod to a deeper context of culture and academic thought that spanned his oeuvre.
Barry Flanagan (1941-2009) Harebell on Portland stone piers 1983
Barry Flanagan (1941-2009) Harebell on Portland stone piers 1983
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