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Leeds has a strong sculpture collection and this work is the first by Frink to enter the collection.
Birdman by Dame Elisabeth Frink, 1956–1959
© Frink Estate
- Plaster Dimensions: Height: 190 cm
- Acquired in:
- Presented by:
- Beaux Arts and The Frink Estate through The Art Fund
The gallery has been looking for a Frink from the late 1950s and 1960s as the artist was searching for a new style during this period and combining the figurative and animal forms in innovative ways. Frink may have been inspired to create this half-man, half-bird figure after reading in Paris Match about a real-life birdman, Léo Valentin, who tried to fly, Icarus-like, with wings. Another influence was her memory of an air force boyfriend who was badly injured when his parachute failed to inflate. The artist's son pointed out that the sculpture, with its embryonic wings, is 'the epitome of the way she saw man, as capable of great heroism – like her soldier father whom she worshipped – but also hugely vulnerable'.
Peter Newington, 1960; by descent; Lyon & Turnbull, 2009; Beaux Arts and The Frink Estate.