Box six is a selection of some of our favourite sculptures in the Gallery. Horse Mirrored by Barry Flanagan is on display on the 1st floor of the gallery and George Bernard Shaw by Rodin in our Sculpture Hall. Grosse Spirale and Big Bird have just been conserved by our conservator, Lucia Fabbro. If you would like to know more about conservation and Lucia’s work on these two sculptures you can find her blog posts here
When this bust was made Rodin was little aware of the Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw’s (1856-1950) growing fame. Rodin was “struck by the Christ-like appearance of Mr Shaw’s features.” Rodin did three busts in plaster, bronze and marble. Of the three busts, Rodin said “…the marble has a completely different type of life. It shines and the light emanates from it. It does not have the aspect of a solid: it has a luminous air and this éclat and extraordinary emanation prevent the curious from touching it. It seems in effect that one could not seize it.”
Gunter Uecker created Grosse Spirale in 1967. It was selected for ROSC 1967, the first of the six ROSC international exhibitions held in Dublin between 1967 and 1988. Uecker was one of the few artists who featured in both the 1967 and 1980 ROSC exhibitions. The Hugh Lane Gallery acquired the work for its contemporary collection in 1968 through the generous donation of the Friends of the National Collections of Ireland. Gosse Spirale is composed of a tightly organised pattern of 7000 thin white small headed painted nails set into a white painted canvas stretched over a wooden panel, the nails creating a circle and small internal wave patterns. The entire front of the work is painted with white emulsion, including nails and the canvas.
Big Bird belongs to a body of work from the early 1980's she called Skinnys and described by her as 'air sculptures'. Birds were personally symbolic for her and recur frequently throughout her work. Big Bird's kinetic energy is heightened by his polychrome, coiled lead and the numerous voids through which the spectator can see
Flanagan fuses the everyday and the fantastical, moulding and gripping the clay to create a form that offers itself to our imagination. Flanagan use of animals, such as the hares, elephants and horses, as in this work, invests human attributes into the animal world, referencing the conventions of the cartoon. The sketchy quality of his technique transforms the work to appear always in motion and thus subject to change. The horse, archetype of classical sculpture, symbolic of fertility, and in particular man's constant companion, here mirrors itself, male and female.