War provided an important context for Elisabeth Frink’s life and work. The Second World War broke out shortly before her ninth birthday and her father, a career solider, was among those evacuated from Dunkirk in 1940. Growing up near a military airfield, she became used to the sound of bombers and fighter planes overhead.
These experiences coloured her childhood drawings, which frequently included falling men and wounded animals, themes she would continue to develop at art school and throughout her career. Appropriately, Frink became part of a group of postwar British known as the ‘Geometry of Fear’ school, including Kenneth Armitage, Eduardo Paolozzi and Reg Butler. Their work was characterised by a heavily cut and worked surface and angular human forms.
Frink’s work revolved around archetypes of masculine strength, struggle and aggression. Combined with her preoccupation with war, completing a set of illustrations for Homer’s epic Greek poems ‘The Iliad’ and ‘The Odyssey’ was a natural fit. The poems tell the story of the Trojan War and the journey of Odysseus after the fall of the city of Troy. God-like characters are elevated to mythological status, and provided a rich source of imagery and stimulation for Frink.
Frink produced these lithographs with the master printers at The Curwen Press in 1974-75. Like many of her Modern British contemporaries, Frink showed great versatility in the approach she took to her art, undertaking commissions for illustrations and design projects. The result was a diverse output, which never compromised on quality and brought her work to the attention of a wider audience.
This exhibition is accompanied by a display of other work by modern and contemporary artist/illustrators, including work by John Piper, Michael Ayrton, Robert Colquhoun, Stephen Jeffrey and Sam Knowels.
All images are lithographs taken from 'The Iliad' or 'The Odyssey', printed by Curwen Press, 1974-75
© Artist's Estate
All works are available for sale
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