Born in Thurlow, Suffolk, Frink (1930 – 1993) studied at the Guildford School of Art (1946–1949) and at the Chelsea School of Art (1949–1953). Part of a post war group of British sculptors, dubbed the Geometry of Fear school. Frink’s subject matter included men, birds, dogs, horses and religious motifs, but very seldom any female forms. Bird (1952) one of a number of bird sculptures, and her first successful pieces (also Three Heads and the Figurative Tradition) with its alert, menacing stance, characterizes her early work.
The push pull of vulnerability and strength is central to Frink’s representation of the male figure. It is an area that in her own words fascinated her through out her life. This particular sculpture was conceived in the run up to her retrospective at the Royal Academy and inspired by the Arab horseman she had seen in photographs from North Africa. On the one hand it is a figure of endurance and strength, wrapped up and self-sufficient. On the other hand he is a solitary vagrant, reliant on his horse for locomotion and to judge, with no clear sense of direction.
“My interest in the horse as a piece of sculpture on its own is less than my interest in a man on a horse. My new idea is a whole series of figure s on horseback; it was started off by looking at photographs of Arabs on horseback, which my stepson had taken in Africa. But these figures will be draped, not nude. They have an amazing dignity – it is extraordinary how the fabric falls – I think that is going to be quite a challenge; much more difficult than the naked figure”.
From an interview with Norman Rosenthal, published in Elisabeth Frink, Sculptures and drawings, 1952-1984, Royal Academy, London, 1985
1955 First solo exhibition at St. Georges Gallery.
1985 Royal Academy, London,
Salisbury Cathedral and Close, Salisbury Library and Galleries, Elisabeth Frink: A Certain Unexpectedness, 1997 (another edition)
Catalogue Raisonné, Elisabeth Frink, edited by Annette Ratuszniak, published by Lund Humphries, 2013 Ref. FCR334, llustrated page 166 Edward Lucie-Smith, Elisabeth Frink: Sculpture since 1984, Art Books International London, 1994, p.182, illustrated pp.52-53 (another cast). Elisabeth Frink, Sculpture and Drawings, 1952-84, pub 1985; SC 1994 Downing, 1997
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