Barry Flanagan (Welsh, 1941-2009), Acrobats, 1988, bronze, artist's copy 2/2, 119 3/4 x 35 x 27 1/2 inches, Gift of Donna and Cargill MacMillan, Jr., 93-2008
Flanagan’s work contains great energy, a boundless sense of imagination, and a playful humor.
The artist is best known for his dynamic and monumental bronze hares, which he began casting in 1979. These figures are animated by gestures more human than animal, subtly appropriating such spirited activities as dancing, prancing, and even boxing. They possess an attitude viewers often find psychological and simply joyous.
Flanagan was inspired by a magical experience he had of seeing a hare running across a field in southern England. After that, he became fascinated with hares. As he began learning about them, he discovered that the hare has a rich symbolic history. For the ancient Egyptians hares represented life; while in Chinese mythology the hare is the sole inhabitant of the moon and is a symbol of immortality.