20 February 2017

Elisabeth Frink at Hauser & Wirth

Two previous posts have been about exhibitions at Hauser & Wirth Somerset in Bruton: in 2014 their opening exhibition was of works by Phyllida Barlow who will have a solo show in the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2017; last year, drawings by Louise Bourgeois. Their current show in Bruton is Elisabeth Frink: Transformation.

Elisabeth Frink (1930-1993) was a major figure in British sculpture from the early 1950s until her death. The sculpture and drawings selected for this show concentrate on the 1950s and 1960s. Birds appear frequently in her early 1960s work:

 and in semi-abstract form in her drawings:

The male form, often nude, appears frequently in her work, never, it seems, the female:

Birdman, 1960
Her large male heads, particularly the Goggle Heads from the late 1960s, are well-known in her late works:

Goggle Head I, 1969 (left) and Desert Quartet III and IV, 1989 right
It may seem carping when there is no charge at Hauser & Wirth for their exhibitions, but to me this show was woefully under-curated. The exhibits were not labelled, or even numbered, so their titles, dates and provenance had to be gleaned, and then only to a limited extent, from the press release and from a commendable Education Guide. It surely would not have been a major effort to overcome these deficiencies, most of the information presumably having to be collated for insurance purposes if nothing else. Annette Ratuszniakh’s Elisabeth Frink Catalogue Raisonne of Sculpture 1947-93 would have been of help.

Elisabeth Frink: Transformation continues until 7 May 2017.

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