This autumn, the Sainsbury Centre will present a major new exhibition of work by Elisabeth Frink (1930-1993). Elisabeth Frink: Humans and Other Animals, featuring over 130 works by the artist, will be the largest showing of Frink’s work in 25 years. The exhibition will provide new perspectives and examine her radical, bohemian beginnings in 1950s London: a reappraisal of one of the most important British sculptors of the twentieth century. Frink’s work will be placed alongside that of other modern masters, most notably Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Auguste Rodin, Francis Bacon, Germaine Richier and Louise Bourgeois. In addition, work by two exciting contemporary artists, Douglas Gordon and Rebecca Warren, will also provide a wider context to explore themes important to Frink.
Elisabeth Frink: Humans and Other Animals will trace the evolution of Frink’s work over four decades, presenting the major themes in her practice and paying significant attention to her early work in the context of artists such as Rodin, Giacometti and Richier who inspired her. The relationship between humans and animals was central for Frink and one she returned to throughout her life. Whilst offering exciting contemporary possibilities both metaphorically and directly, she was conscious of the fact that animals appear in art from the very earliest times and that their relationship with humans and animals is interdependent.
Frink rose to prominence while still a student at Chelsea College of Art in 1952, when she had her first major gallery exhibition and won a prize in the international competition for the Monument to the Unknown Political Prisoner. During this period, she created a series of expressionist bird sculptures, which for her, evoked ‘strong feelings of panic, tension, aggression and predatoriness’. Frink created one of the most succinct responses to the Second World War and to the climate of fear generated by the encroaching Cold War.
Powerful examples of this series of sculptures will include Bird (1952), purchased by Tate from Frink’s first major exhibition and Vulture (1952). For Frink, the bird-form became an avatar evoking an extreme sense of menace, fear and panic. 21 of these remarkable works will go on display and will be presented alongside works of a similarly foreboding and animalistic nature by Bourgeois and Richier. Mirage I and II (1969), presented outside in the Sainsbury Centre’s 350-acre Sculpture Park at the University of East Anglia, will provide an appropriate natural setting for these major works and a lasting legacy of the exhibition.
13 October 2018 – 24 February 2019
Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art, University of East Anglia, Norfolk Road, Norwich NR4 7TJ