Dame Elisabeth Frink was born in Thurlow, Suffolk, in 1930. She studied at Guildford School of Art (1947-49) and Chelsea School of Art, London (1949-53) under Bernard Meadows and Willi Soukop. She taught at Chelsea School of Art (1953-61), St Martin's School of Art (1954-62) and was visiting lecturer at the Royal College of Art (1965-67).
As one of Britain's leading sculptors, Frink was awarded Honorary Doctorates by the University of Surrey (1977), Open University (1983), University of Warwick (1983), University of Cambridge (1988), University of Exeter (1988), University of Oxford (1989) and University of Keele (1989). She also received official recognition, being awarded the CBE in 1969, and in 1982 she was created Dame of the British Empire.
Men, dogs, horses and birds were constant subject-matter throughout Frink's career. She modelled, cast in plaster and then carved the plaster, much as Henry Moore had done, to achieve a tougher surface when the plaster was cast in bronze. Unlike Moore, however, she rarely worked with the female form: 'I have focused on the male because to me he is a subtle combination of sensuality and strength with vulnerability,' Frink is quoted as saying in the catalogue raisonne of her work (Elisabeth Frink: Sculpture, Harpvale, 1984).
Her figures have dignity, mystery and a simplicity of form which place them apart from us: they seem to be focused elsewhere. The animals demonstrate her deep understanding of their state, for she encapsulates their innate and individual characteristics. Frink's drawing and graphic work followed the same themes, being executed with the economy of means and feeling for surface texture that is to be found in her three-dimensional work. Elisabeth Frink died in 1993.
Daughter of an ordinary Army family, Dame Elisabeth Frink grew up to be an original, passionate and exceptionally talented sculptor - one of the few 20th century artists to achieve critical acclaim while remaining popular with the general public. Frink went on from art school to take her place at the centre of Bohemian Chelsea; she married three times, had many lovers, and became friends with many of the late 20th century's most colourful figures from the art and literary worlds. A complex, contradictory figure of great inner strength and integrity, Frink embodied a peculiarly eccentric mixture of flamboyance and conventionality
Elisabeth Frink (1930-1993) was born at Thurlow in Sussex and trained at Guildford and the Chelsea School of Art under Bernard Meadows. Her early work was influenced by Moore and Giacometti , angular and menacing bronze figures with touches of Surrealism(e.g. Horizontal Bird Man,bronze,1964),like the use of goggles on her Algerian war heads. From the 1960’s her work became smoother and more direct with a concentration on horses(e. g. Rolling Over Horse,1972)and male figures. She used exaggerated modelling and anatomy to try to express the inner spirit of the subject. She increasingly worked on public commissions (e. g. Walking Madonna for Salisbury Cathedral). She lived in Dorset, and became a Dame in 1982.In 1985 she was given a Royal Academy retrospective
Elisabeth Frink is widely recognised as one of the most important post-war British sculptors. She was born in Suffolk in 1930, and she studied at both the Guilford School of Art and the Chelsea School of Art, where she won a scholarship. Her fame began in the early 1950s, at that time still a student, when she sold a sculpture to the Tate Gallery. The piece in question was entitled Bird; along with the male figure, a variety of animal subjects were to dominate her production in its entirety.
Her work is quite different from that of her contemporaries, and it is evident that she tried to avoid their influence. In 1967 she moved to France in order to "cut myself off from the British art scene". It is perhaps because of this that much of her output deals successfully with the transcendental. Some pieces explore the forces of nature upon man, others examine the power of the body itself. Frink appeals to a wide variety of audiences, and her work can be seen in countries as diverse as Hong Kong, South Africa and South America.
In recognition of her achievements, Frink was awarded the C.B.E., the D.B.E. and the C.H at various stages in her career, and also several honorary Doctorates. She continued to work until she was overcome by cancer. Just a few days before her death in 1993 the artist watched the televised installation of her last major commission, Risen Christ, in the Anglican Cathedral in Liverpool.
Elisabeth Frink: Sculpture and Drawings 1966 1993, Lumley Cazalet Ltd., London
June 19th July 18th 1997
Elisabeth Frink: Sculpture since 1984 and Drawings, Edward Lucie-Smith, Art Books International, London 1994
Elisabeth Frink: Sculpture, catalogue raisonné, Peter Shaffer et al, Harpvale books, London 1984
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