Friday, August 17, 2007

Barry Flanagan :: Large Left-Handed Drummer

"Dexterously the Drummer was right handed, there are examples in bronze from that mould in other locations.

The left handedness of this Drummer speaks to the other side of the brain, from the past to the future; another tune in composure.

Broadway!! A seed of hope after the conviction. I would subtitle this piece ‘I don’t want to set the world on fire.'"

– Barry Flanagan, on the installation of Large Left-Handed Drummer in Brooklyn, Summer 2007

New on the NMA Rooftop! Come look, dance around, and ring in the arrival of the wonderfully playful sculpture Large Left-Handed Drummer, by British sculptor Barry Flanagan. Flanagan is most well-known for his large-scale bronze hare sculptures, of which Large Left-Handed Drummer is one. It stands some 16 feet tall, and appears to be drumming out of some joy at looking out on the Northern Sierra and the Great Basin.

From the Irish Museum of Modern Art:

"Barry Flanagan’s series of hare sculptures, which he began in the late 1970s, are among the most instantly recognisable artworks of the last 20 years. Playful, spontaneous and full of life, many show their subject engaged in human activities – dancing, playing musical instruments and sports and, more recently, using technology. Visitors to IMMA are already familiar with The Drummer, which has marked the main entrance to the Museum since its donation by the artist in 2001. The exhibition brings together 11 similar works, spanning the many ingenious variations which Flanagan has brought to this strand of his work. In Empire State with Bowler Mirrored, 1997, for example, we see two matching hares stepping jauntily over the Empire State Building, while their more pensive counterpart in Large Troubadour, 2004, sits apparently disconsolately alongside his cello, as if questioning his ability as a musician.

"Flanagan sees the hare as a particularly suitable vehicle for these human endeavours and emotions, “…if you consider what conveys situation and meaning in a human figure, the range of expression is in fact more limited than the device of investing an animal – a hare especially – with the expressive attributes of a human being. The ears for instance are able to convey far more than a squint in the eye of a figure, or a grimace in the face of the model.”

Flanagan was born in North Wales in 1941. He studied at Birmingham College of Arts and Crafts before going on to further schooling at the St. Martin's School of Art in London, where he also taught after he completed his own schooling. He has also taught at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London. Flanagan represented Britain in the 1982 Venice Biennale. He has been the subject of major exhibitions all over the world, most recently in a major retrospective exhibition of his work at the Irish Museum of Modern Art. You'll also see a nice photograph of the sculpture installed in New York City at Flickr.