Wednesday 4 December 2019

Goggle Head by Elisabeth Frink

This sculpture is part of the Ancestors series, an installation at the Royal Academy of Art.

The Goggle Heads series by Elisabeth Frink is a group of sculptures she created which stem from a questioning and uncompromising preoccupation with masculine power that was central to Frink's work. On examining this sculpture further one notices the slight smirk in the smile, the heavy features, the hard and imposingly solid shape of the head.

 'When I moved to France I got interested in the Algerian War, which was then just only over. It still rumbled away, the horror of it. What really triggered the Goggle Heads series were some rather extraordinary photographs of people like General Oufkir. They all hid behind dark glasses, and these became a symbol of evil for me', Frink explained.

Goggle Heads are sophisticated criminal types, their identities hidden behind polished goggles, displaying a bullish arrogance and suaveness. The double edged point of these glasses however, is that these men lack vision and they mask a vulnerability, as Peter Shaffer wrote: 'the constant wearing of dark glasses always speaks of impotence to me: a fear of having scrutiny returned - the secret terror of the torturer'. Goggle Heads are a direct attack on such individuals: brainless, nasty people. Frink has said that these sculptures are 'a statement on my part about the cruelty and stupidity of repressive regimes and of the men who operate them'.  Through the continuous exploring of this theme, few artists have managed to comment so forcefully on the character of these men as Frink has, through these monumental, compelling bronzes.

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