Birdman by Dame Elisabeth Frink

Leeds has a strong sculpture collection and this work is the first by Frink to enter the collection.


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.

Venue details

Leeds Art Gallery The Headrow, Leeds West Yorkshire LS1 3AA 0113 247 8256

Entry details

Free entry to all
Free exhibitions to all

Tue-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12-4pm

Closed Mon and bank hols

​Leeds Art Gallery will be closed from 11 January 2016 for major roof repairs. Please check the website for details.

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