Barry Flanagan

Date : 1986

Medium : Sculpture

Size : 196,2 x 188 x 105,4 cm

Bronze 4/7

In the 1970s, Barry Flanagan began stone sculpture and bronze moulds. But the return to traditional sculpture materials was in fact a subversion and parody of the heroic status of classical art. The various animals he produces (hares, elephants, horses) in abnormal and unimaginable positions point to the artist's questioning of traditional views on sculpture. They show the dynamic, fantasy-like and absurd characteristics of Flanagan's work. He admits to being flattered and even fulfilled when people laugh at his work.

The guide

An elephant in the middle of a bank - that's never been seen before.

Perhaps even more surprising is that this elephant has become the mascot of the collection for many of our employees.

Elephant is a bronze sculpture by Barry Flanagan who, after experimenting with a host of different materials, finally came back to traditional sculpture techniques.

The artist’s favourite theme: animal sculpture, which also makes much use of sculpture’s traditional techniques, and was particularly popular during the 19th century. But while Barry Flanagan's sculpture is inspired by art of the past, he adds a touch of the new.

Looking more closely at the elephant, notice the strange position it is in.
As is often the case with Flanagan’s work, the elephant appears to be moving, but the movement of its front foot is kept in check, as it runs all the way back to the base of the sculpture. The elephant’s foot can’t seem to break free of the base it is attached to. The body of the elephant seems to spurt out of the base like a fountain, only to remain a prisoner of it. This contrast is reinforced by the irregular surface of unpolished bronze.

In this off-beat brand of classical art, the monumental size of the subject and the harshness of the material are strangely reduced by the circular shape of the sculpture.
The artist manages to combine an exercise in circularity and an exercise in style.