Barry Flanagan (Welsh, born 1941)
Large Leaping Hare, 1982
Gilded bronze with painted tubular-steel base
110 x 111 x 44 inches
Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Collection
In 1979, Barry Flanagan bought a dead hare from a local butcher and used the carcass as a model for a sculpture he was working on in his then East End studio. From that point on, the artists leaping hare imagery was iconic. In fact, the artist reached such notoriety with this imagery, he was asked to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale in 1982.
The Welsh born Sculptor began his career in the field of poetry, writings which he then applied to stone and marble surfaces. The artist later delved more specifically into sculpture, and was actually a pupil of Anthony Caro (see his works River Song and Clouds, also at NorthPark Center). However Flanagan rejected the metal abstract structures characteristic of Anthony Caro’s work and instead turned to a more organic approach of sculpture, flirting initially with Land Art and Arte Povera.
Flanagan’s gilded Large Leaping Hare, on view in the Children’s wing at NorthPark Center (Level One between Macy’s and Nordstrom) is characteristic of the artist’s deep involvement with natural form and order. Flanagan is interested in the ritualistic, in hieroglyphs and pictograms, and in ancient art and thought systems as paths toward universal meaning. In this sculpture, the artist places a large, gilded bronze hare on a pedestal of sorts, elevating the animal both in the materials chosen to render it, and the physical height at which it is placed.
For Flanagan, the hare stands as a central, symbolic being. The artist has described the animal as a “surrogate figure…evocative of human situation or activity…” The book The Leaping Hare by George Ewart Evans and David Thompson was also an important influence on Flanagan. In the book, the authors discuss the Egyptian hieroglyph for the hare as a symbol of being. However, the hare is also a subject that strikes interest for Flanagan because of the animal’s “archetypcal embodiment of the trickster, delighting in breaking rules,” as Andrew Wilson wrote for the Tate Museum. If you are stopping by NorthPark this Saturday for our Easter Celebration (in CenterPark Garden from 10AM-1PM), be sure not to miss this work of art!