Hare on Ball and Claw
Barry Flanagan (British, born 1941)
1989-90. Oil on canvas, 132". 1997.013
Barry Flanagan’s sculpture ingeniously mixes fantasy, satire, and realism. It is his response to the Minimalist sculpture of his contemporaries with its severe geometric abstraction. Flanagan has said he can express more about human nature by using a hare than a human figure, because a hare has such expressive potential—in the ears, for example. Here, a monumental hare stands on a ball-and-claw, his pose triumphant but not threatening. The ball-and-claw is a design motif from eighteenth- century British and American furniture. It is a symbol of craftsmanship and tradition but also of the hare as the perennial prey of animals with claws—a reminder of the sometimes violent cycle of life and death.