london

Ian Hamilton Finlay, Aphrodite of the Terror (detail), 1987, plaster, 64 1/8 × 21 1/4 × 18 7/8".

Ian Hamilton Finlay

Victoria Miro Gallery | Mayfair

Ian Hamilton Finlay, Aphrodite of the Terror (detail), 1987, plaster, 64 1/8 × 21 1/4 × 18 7/8".

The French Revolution was a recurrent theme in Ian Hamilton Finlay’s protean career as a poet, Conceptual artist, sculptor, and gardener. Offering an invigorating model for thinking about politics and history, the Revolution runs like a red thread through his work in diverse media—from printed postcards to the gardens of Little Sparta—and was in evidence in the twelve works assembled here. While the title “1789–1794” also invoked the utopian promise of the Revolution’s early years, what captured Finlay’s imagination was clearly its most radical phase, the Terror of 1793–94. Jacobin virtues of radical abstraction, sublimity, and aesthetic purity all appear as objects of fascination in Finlay’s work, as does the paradoxical centrality of nature and the classical past to revolutionary attempts to make the world anew, to rethink time and language from the ground up.

Metaphors

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