The official biography of one of the outstanding figures in the British art world and one of the very few women to break into the art establishment.
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.
From ordinary beginnings, Frink went on 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.
Gardiner’s biography focuses on the places (Suffolk, London, France and Dorset) and people (lovers, husbands, friends) that shaped her life and on the themes (men, horses, birds) and beliefs which shaped her work.
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Born in 1930 in Suffolk, Elisabeth Frink burst onto the art scene by selling her first sculpture to the Tate Gallery while still a student, and quickly became the femme formidable of the Chelsea scene, working most waking hours and socialising the rest. Her early work, after discovering the sculptures of Auguste Rodin, was strongly figurative and instinctive, centring on animals, heads and the naked male form. These themes and methods were to remain with her as she ploughed her own artistic path, irrespective of trend, in much the same way as Francis Bacon. Her pieces are typically alive with a ferocious energy, so that their audience feels, often uneasily, a brazen sexuality from them that was certainly part of their charismatic creator (a friend noted that he could tell when she replaced a lover by the change in shape of her male figures' genitals). By the time of her death in 1993 she had consolidated a considerable reputation through her numerous commissions and exhibitions without quite achieving the degree of imaginative release she had once threatened, despite producing consistently fine work.
This is the first major biography of Elisabeth Frink, and Stephen Gardiner writes with unstinting loyalty of a friend he obviously adored. The adulatory tone can make the prose flat at times, but by the end it is impossible not to be drawn in by his enthusiasm, and one is left with a strong desire to re-acquaint oneself with the work of this brave and driven artist. -- David VincentReview:
Praise for Gardiner’s Epstein: Artist Against the Establishment:
‘A rich and monumental history, compressing into the life of this extraordinary, immensely energetic man a vivid slice of some of this century’s most important social and artistic history’
Mark Archer, Financial Times
‘A magnificent biography… A profound and loving portrayal’
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Book Description Harpercollins, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. First. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0002556065