- Barry Flanagan
- The Boxing Ones
- stamped with the foundry mark AA London and numbered 4/7 on the base
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 1986
Seoul, The National Museum of Contemporary Art; Taipei, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Fondation Cartier: A Collection, 1994 - 1995, pp. 63 - 65 & p. 176; pp. 36-37 & p. 107, illustrated
Brussels, Banque Bruxelles Lambert, Art at Work, 1996
Paris, Les Châteaux du Bordelais; Bordeaux, Mécénart Aquitaine, La Collection de La Fondation Cartier pour L'art Contemporain, 1997, pp. 249 - 250, illustrated
Zaragoza, Palacio de Montezumo and La Lonja, Les Jeux dans L'art du XXème Siècle, 2002 - 2003
Paris, Palais Royal Gardens, Sculptures au Palais Royal, 2004
Barry Flanagan's The Boxing Ones is one of the artist's most iconic and powerful sculptures from a seminal moment in his career. Executed in 1985, this work is from the artist's first edition of this subject and represented his first monumental sculpture tackling two figures interacting in a single composition. Portraying a pair of animated hares sparring playfully whilst precariously balanced on a raised, cruciform base, this work represents a dynamic example of his celebrated expressive anthropomorphism and its uncanny ability to manifest intense human emotion and action in the form of a hare. Here, Flanagan captures the featherweight lightness and steel-like strength of the boxers. Elegantly poised, with ears pricked-up mid-movement and arms extended for the next advance, the body shapes of the hares also express a feeling of apprehension and uncertainty as they square up to each other in a show of strength and bravado.
The 1980s were a period of intense artistic activity and critical success for Flanagan. In 1982 he was selected to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale, and in the years that followed his artistic language was to mature and evolve, culminating in the creation of these monumental hares. Cast in bronze, the material that he believed best suited his linear vision, the dark, undulating surfaces recoding his interaction with the material lend what he called "bloom and drama" to the work. Tim Hilton writes of the symbolism implicit in Flanagan's choice of the hare in the catalogue that accompanied the Biennale, "This little beast, fast and fleeting, active in the spring, standing upright only for a second or two, can carry many of Flanagan's purposes. It is the consummation of the vein of humour in his art. But it also has serious artistic purposes as a vehicle for formal variations. I think we would be wrong not to recognise that there are numerous forms and attitudes taken by the hare that repeat a kind of classic modern figure sculpture. [...] It can be thought of as a personal, or a person; or as a symbol for a person; or as a symbol for some universal principle." (Exhibition Catalogue, London, The British Council, Barry Flanagan: Sculpture, 1982, p. 14)
In the 1960s and 1970s Flanagan's art was associated with the minimal and land art movements, frequently addressing process and language. Although the bronze hares and animals he produced from the 1980s onwards were in apparent contrast to his earlier works, which were made in humble materials, such as sand, sticks and hessian, with hindsight, they maintain a consistently authentic and original nature rooted in Flanagan's intense dialogue with his materials, and in his rather British capacity for understatement and playfulness. Expressing the essence of human emotion and angst through a language of playful anthropomorphism, Flanagan's The Boxing Ones stands amongst his most memorable and complex works.