With its oblong head and stylized hair and features, Head has the simplicity and timelessness of archaic sculpture. Its large, pupil-less eyes are minimally carved, giving the work a mysterious aura. John Bernard Flannagan was a key figure associated with the early twentieth-century rise of the direct carving tradition. In this approach to sculpture, there is no model; the form evolves from the process of carving and the inherent qualities of the material. After initially working in wood, the artist experimented with a range of stones, including smooth marble, as seen here, as well as rustic “natural” stones.
He borrowed from archetypal imagery that had long traditions in ancient and non-Western sculpture, especially women and animals, often set within womblike forms. He drew inspiration from African and early Iberian sculpture, and developed an intellectual framework based on the writings of Carl Jung. Through this combination, he worked to uncover the primordial and natural essence of his subjects as revealed in his materials. Working with a light touch, he would carve away as little stone as possible in order to release a subject conceptually bound in his material.
From the 2019 exhibition Cubism and Its Aftershocks, curated by John R. Stomberg Ph.D, Virginia Rice Kelsey 1961s Director
American Art at Dartmouth: Highlights from the Hood Museum of Art, Israel Sack Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, June 9-December 9, 2007.
Aspects of of Sculpture: the Paul Magriel Collection, Guild Hall Museum, East Hampton, New York, July 28-September 15, 1985; Museum of Fine Art, Springfield, Massachusetts, September 22-October 27, 1985; Davison Art Center, Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, November 7-December 15, 1985; Allentown Art Museum, Allentown, Pennsylvania, December 21-February 16, 1986.
Cubism and Its Aftershocks, Citrin Family Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 26, 2019-November 27, 2019.
Israel Sack Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, May 22, 1995-March 25, 1996.
John B. Flannagan Sculpture/Drawings, 1924-1938, The Weyhe Gallery, New York City, November 15-December 29, 1973; Minnesota Museum of Art, St. Paul, January 17-March 17, 1974; Tweed Museum of Art, University of Minnesota, Duluth, April 3-April 30, 1974.
Main Lobby, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, September 2-October 10, 1994.
John T. Spike, Aspects of Sculpture: the Paul Magriel Collection, Florence: Centro Di della Edifimi Srl, 1985, ill. p. 92.
John B. Flannagan Sculpture/Drawings, 1924-1938, St. Paul: Minnesota Museum of Art, 1973, ill. no. 25 (not paginated).
Barbara J. MacAdam, American Art at Dartmouth: Highlights from the Hood Muesum of Art, Hanover: Trustees of Dartmouth College, 2007, p. 128, no. 101.
1982, Weyhe Galleries; 1982-1990, Paul Magriel; 1990-1992, Robert Dance, Inc., New York, New York; 1992 purchased by Dartmouth College from Robert Dance, Inc., New York, New York.
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