Barry Flanagan RA - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session New York Tuesday, May 16, 2023 | Phillips
  • Barry Flanagan, 1983. Image: © The Lewinski Archive at Chatsworth. All Rights Reserved 2023, Artwork: © The Estate of Barry Flanagan. All rights reserved 2023 / Bridgeman Images


    Created in 1984, Barry Flanagan’s Hare is a prime, early example of the Welsh sculptor’s preoccupation with anthropomorphism. Representing the diversity of human emotion and experience, in the present work, Flanagan imbues human-like qualities into a rabbit with the distinct dynamism that has become synonymous with his practice. First using the motif in the late 1970s, Flanagan returned repeatedly throughout his career to the dancer-like movement of the hare, using bronze for the first time in years to represent both the inner and outer gracefulness of the animal. Flanagan was also deeply fascinated with the mythological and cultural connotations of the hare, known for its multi-faceted symbolism. Large-scale versions of Flanagan’s Hares have been exhibited in many outdoor spaces, most notably on Park Avenue in New York in 1995 and 1996, and at Grant Park in Chicago in 1996. The present work is from a small edition of only four examples with one artist’s cast. Similarly scaled sculptures are held in prominent museum collections including the Tate, London, the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Centre Pompidou, Paris. 

    “Thematically the choice of the hare is really quite a rich and expressive sort of model ...if you consider what conveys situation and meaning and feeling in a human figure, the range of expression is in fact far more limited than the device of investing an animal – a hare especially – with the attributes of a human being.”
    —Barry Flanagan

    Discovering George Ewart Evan and David Thompson’s book The Leaping Hare (1972) in 1979, Flanagan became fascinated with the animal’s connotations in mythology and ancient cultures. Heralded as signifying life, immortality and fertility in Chinese and ancient Egyptian cultures, while simultaneously representing deception, trickery, cleverness and triumph, the hare possesses many cross-cultural interpretations. Flanagan was drawn to these varied characteristics, feeling that the animal possessed more human-like qualities than it may seem. Hare and other works like it illustrate Flanagan’s notion that “the horse, the hare, the elephant – are all one remove from the dominance of the portrait of the human figure.”i Upending traditions of portraiture and likeness, the present work presents these qualities through the rabbit’s somewhat abstracted form. The suggestion of a posed kick and ears flying in the distance turn the creature into something more similar to human than animal, while still evading concrete categorization.


    Elongated and stylized, the present work is reminiscent of the sculptural work of Alberto Giacometti. Both using bronze to represent their forms, the two artists used expressive elements in their works, giving the cold metal a human-like quality and warmth. In doing so, their works push the boundaries of figurative art, adding a unique narrative to the sculptural canon. This expression is also carried to the base of Hare. Using individual bronze elements piled on top of each other, which act as an extension of the hare’s appendages, the artist avoids the use of a traditional, flat or structured base. The result is a figure which transcends traditional sculptural practice, taking Giacometti’s notions a step further. Like Giacometti’s walking men with spindly limbs, Flanagan’s hares possess layered depth and meaning, owed to their delicate forms. As one foot is placed ahead of the other as if in motion in Giacometti’s Walking Man II, created decades earlier, here in Hare, Flanagan illustrates a dynamic figure leaping into the viewer’s space, as if suspended in time.


    Alberto Giacometti, Walking Man II, 1960. The Art Institute of Chicago. Image: The Art Institute of Chicago / Art Resource, NY, Artwork: © 2023 Alberto Giacometti Estate / VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY / ADAGP, Paris



    i Barry Flanagan, interviewed by Adrian Dannatt, “Interview with Barry Flangan on his fascination with bronze: A tradesman, not an artist,” The Art Newspaper, February 29, 2004, online.

    • Provenance

      Pace Gallery, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      London, Waddington Galleries, Barry Flanagan: Works 1966–2008, March 17–April 17, 2010, no. 19, pp. 59, 106 (another example illustrated, p. 59)

Property from an Important Private Collection, Massachusetts



incised with the artist's monogram, number, date and foundry mark "f. 84 3/4" on the base
33 x 15 1/2 x 9 1/2 in. (83.8 x 39.4 x 24.1 cm)
Executed in 1984, this work is number 3 from an edition of 4 plus one artist's cast.

Full Cataloguing

$200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for $330,200

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Annie Dolan

Specialist, Head of Sale, Morning Session
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20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session

New York Auction 16 May 2023