Lot 479
  • 479

Barry Flanagan

500,000 - 700,000 USD
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  • Barry Flanagan
  • Hare on Ball and Claw
  • stamped with the artist's monogram and number 5/5 on the base
  • bronze
  • 132 by 48 by 36 in. 335.3 by 121.9 by 94 cm.
  • Executed in 1989-1990, this work is number 5 from an edition of 5, plus 3 artist's proofs.


Gasiunasen Gallery, Palm Beach
Acquired from the above by the present owner


London, Waddington Galleries and The Economist Plaza, Barry Flanagan, May - June 1990 (another example exhibited)
New York, Pace Gallery, Barry Flanagan, September - October 1990, pp. 10-16 and 33-36 (another example exhibited)
Tokyo, Fuji Television Gallery, Barry Flanagan, October - December 1991 (another example exhibited)
Wakefield, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, The Names of the Hare: Large Bronzes by Barry Flanagan: 1983-1990, June - August 1992, pp. 4-8, 10-17 and 18-22 


This work is in excellent and sound condition overall. Under raking light, there are scattered surface inconsistencies with minor surface scratches throughout, which appear inherent to the work and most likely consistent to a work that is placed outdoors.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

The outstretched hare in Hare on Ball and Claw embodies a balancing act central to Barry Flanagan’s work of the 1980s; just as the hare appears to hover between the ground and the air, so too does Flanagan’s work leap the divide between traditional and contemporary sculpture. While much of Flanagan’s early work reflects his training at St. Martin’s School of Art in London in the 1960s, where he was exposed to sculptures typical of the period, composed of abstract forms, found objects and unconventional materials, it was in 1979, when Flanagan created the first in a series of sculptures of hares, that his practice began to take on its distinct balance of the classical and the peculiar, for which the artist is now best known. As Robert Landau notes, “He has devised an idiom, as all artists do, which allows him the necessary freedom to produce forms of great vitality that also carry conviction as recognizable figurative images” (Robert Landau in Exh. Cat., Montreal, Landau Fine Art, Barry Flanagan, 1992, p. 3).

In choosing to use bronze as his primary material for the hares, the artist aligned his work with academic sculptural traditions, yet Flanagan’s manipulation of the bronze was far from conformist. The rough textures of the sculpture’s surface, as well as its sinewy, elongated shapes relay an abiding, profound interest in abstract forms. Additionally, the subject matter mingles traditional and unconventional imagery. The inclusion of the ball and claw base is a rather tongue-in-cheek reference to English 18th century interior design, acknowledging the artist’s cultural heritage, while presenting it in a new and unlikely setting. Moreover, the primary subject—a larger-than-life, personified hare—distorts the trope of the classical nude sculpture. The hare is poised on its hind legs, assuming a stance and scale typically reserved for human subjects. The rabbit, though a strange and thoroughly unorthodox subject for a large sculpture, is one familiar to most viewers, drawn from fairytales and folklore and full of metonymic associations. Tim Hilton suggests, “The hare is used to make a connection between the particular and numinous. It can be thought of as personal, or a person: or as a symbol for a person; or as a symbol for some universal principle” (Tim Hilton in Exh. Cat., British Pavilion, Venice Biennale, Barry Flanagan: Sculpture, 1982, p. 14). Hare on Ball and Claw is an exquisite example of Flanagan’s ability to balance traditional and unique techniques with subjects to create a singular image that captures the viewer’s imagination.