Barry Flanagan b. 1941


Waddington Galleries, London


New York, Pace Gallery, Barry Flanagan: Recent Sculpture, 28 October - 26 November 1983, illus b/w p27

London, Waddington Galleries,Groups VII, 5 - 28 January 1984, cat no.38, illus b/w p32

Perth, Art Gallery of Western Australia, The British Show, British Council, 19 February - 24 March 1985, p50, illus b/w p52, touring to:
Sydney, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 23 April - 9 June 1985
Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 5 July - 11 August 1985
Melbourne, Royal Exhibition Hall, 26 September - 5 November 1985
New Zealand, National Art Gallery, Wellington, 5 December 1985 - 26 January 1986

Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, 11 European Sculptors, Europalia, November - December 1986, 5/7 exhibited

Montreal, Landau Fine Art, Barry Flanagan, 15 October - 19 December 1992, ex-catalogue, 5/7 exhibited

London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, The Whitechapel Centenary Exhibition, 21 March - 20 May 2001, illus colour p118 in The Whitechapel Art Gallery Centenary Review, 5/7 exhibited

Recklinghausen, Kunsthalle, Barry Flanagan: Plastik und Zeichnung - Sculpture and Drawing, 5 May -14 July 2002, cat no.1, illus colour p110, touring to:
Nice, Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain, 6 December 2002 - 25 May 2003

Dublin, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Barry Flanagan: Sculpture 1965-2005, with Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane, 28 June - 24 September 2006, p81, illus colour, 5/7 exhibited


Flanagan is a major figure in British sculpture. This particular work is one of several made in the late 1970s and early 1980s on the subject of boats. These works refer obliquely, and sometimes more directly (In Memoriam Vessel, 1981), to the death of Flanagan's brother in a yachting accident in the Observer Transatlantic Singlehanded Race in 1976.

The Lack of Civility was made in 1982, the year of the Falklands Crisis, and it appears to show the torpedoing of a ship. The remote location of the islands required a naval response, and soon the subject of death at sea went from a personal concern to a national one, with many of the news images from the time featuring boats in rough seas. The poignancy of this image seems to rest on the ingenious sculptural conceit whereby the ephemeral plume of smoke is made permanent in bronze.

It is one of three unusual and subtly related bronzes made soon after Flanagan took up working in bronze for the first time in the early 1980s. Each has thematic similarities with the other two. Like The Lack of Civility, The Vessel (In Memoriam), can be read as a private memorial to Flanagan's brother, and its status as a memorial is futher enhanced by its gilt interior. In Soprano, a squawking bird is pierced by a huge golden arrow. It shares the same sense of violent pentration as in The Lack of Civility and in the context of these other works, the voice of the title becomes inextricably a wail of pain.

In The Lack of Civility the three parts are distinguished by different colours of patination, as if different elements. The bronze at the centre has the prints of the artist's hands, either as a record of its making, or else as if they showed the hands of someone standing behind, through which seems to shoot a great stream of bronze. The title is cut into the original material in serifed capitals but the exact meaning of this phrase is not fully explained.