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Christ, Elisabeth Frink

Bust of a man with eyes closed and hair tied back in bun

Elisabeth Frink, Christ, 1983, Pallant House Gallery (2020) © Frink Estate

At a glance

Artist: Elisabeth Frink

Date: 1983

Materials: Bronze

Acquisition: Provided to Pallant House Gallery in accordance with the wishes of the artist’s late son, Lin Jammet, (2020)

 

There was a renewed sense of spirituality in Elisabeth Frink’s later works. Frink showed a clear interest in both pagan religion, as seen through her Green Man works, and a an increasing interest in Christian iconography. Frink’s depictions of Christ allowed her to further delve into her fascination with masculinity, including strength, vulnerability, pain and violence.

The simplicity of the bronze head presents Christ as a universal figure and conveys a sense of humanity and relatability. His eyes are closed and contemplative, a stark contrast to her sinister series of works inspired by Generals in the Algerian War of Independence. Known as the Goggleheads, these works have obscured eyes giving a sense of violence.

Elisabeth Frink was born in Thurlow, Suffolk in 1930. Her father was an army officer and Frink spent her early childhood near an airbase in Suffolk. When the Second World War broke out, Frink was witness to frequent plane crashes and the emotional turmoil of returning soldiers. This imagery would have a profound influence on her work.

After the war, she became associated with the artists around the Geometry of Fear School. This group was made up of a group of sculptors, including Reg Butler, Lynn Chadwick and Eduardo Paolozzi. Their work was characterised by jagged forms which they used to express the fears of the post war period. Frink also frequently depicted animals including horses and birds.

Christ was part of a gift of sculptures and drawings made to the Gallery in 2020. It reflects religious themes within the collection and is a significant addition by a major British sculptor from the 20th century.

Exploring Elisabeth Frink's 'Christ'