Auction Preview: Barry Flanagan at Sotheby’s

BARRY FLANAGAN (1941–2009) THE LACK OF CIVILITY 1982 bronze 80cm

BARRY FLANAGAN (1941–2009) THE LACK OF CIVILITY 1982 bronze 80cm

Ten years ago the centre of the capital’s O’Connell Street was temporarily occupied by a series of large bronze hares, more of their number running up as far as Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane. These figures were sculpted by the late Barry Flanagan and their appearance coincided with a retrospective of his work then taking place at the Irish Museum of Modern Art. The hares proved both a blessing and a curse for Flanagan, who although born in Wales was of Irish extraction and had moved to this country in the mid-1990s, eventually taking citizenship. His Dancing Hares, instantly identifiable, were a signature work for which there was constant demand but they had the effect of overshadowing the rest of his substantial output, especially earlier pieces from the 1960s and 1970s which were less overtly flamboyant, and also his temporary and performance-based work of the same period.

Another bronze called The Lack of Civility and dating from 1982, is due to be offered by Sotheby’s in London on 16 March. Measuring 80 centimetres in length and one of an edition of seven, it represents a boat buffeted by waves at sea and was produced in response to the Falklands War of that year, as well as recalling his earlier use of such a vessel in memory of a brother lost at sea. Originally exhibited at London’s Whitechapel Gallery in 1983, Sotheby’s last sold this piece a decade ago when it made £2,800. It now carries a pre-sale estimate of £4,000-£6,000.