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Giving A Flying Frannie


A portrait of charismatic British channel swimmer, famed Olympian and underwater synchronised dialectician Frannie Blankers-Thrupiece (1917-1985) will go on show tomorrow as the central exhibit in the Dorset Socialist Realism Exhibition hosted by the Royal Dorset Academy of Arts in the Edna Whisky McNightly Room of the Threadbone Gallery, Crendell. The work is on loan from its anonymous owner "Mrs AJT".

"Flying Frannie" by Joseph Stalin (1878-1953) has never been seen outside the old Soviet Union, having been removed from the Stalingrad Museum in the backlash following the Great Dictator's death. It was thought by most art experts to be lost. Though a "skilled painter" whose "freedom of expression" was often hampered by "a tendency to prioritise ideology over fine brushwork and subvert the normal rules of function and form in his deconstruction of body parts" [Bonipedia], Stalin is better known as a mass murderer. Flying Frannie is considered one of the better examples of his late work alongside the acknowledged masterpieces: "Bukharin Shitting Himself" and "Meyerhold's Last Cigarette".

Stalin expert Simone Sandbag-Montechristo is convinced that the painter never met his Dutch/English subject but equally certain that never he forgot the strong impression she made on him during the 1948 London Games when effortlessly accommodating her partner's "phenomenal middle-body extensions" in the subaquatic free-form cross-dressage event. "It was a mental image he seemed unable or unwilling to delete".

Ms Blankers-Thrupiece - considered a great beauty in her day (“though she didn’t wear too well” (Thrupiece, The Early Diaries Vol VIII)) - went on to be a much respected local celebrity and professional outsize model. In an interview in the mid 1950s for "Oakley Olympians Magazine" she revealed that diet was the key to her sporting success: "I never went on one". Whilst this may well have proved key to maintaining her legendary thermal tolerance and stamina (as well as securing her a contact with Dorset-based Chomps the all-you-can-eat for 2 shillings comestibles emporium), it was to prove her undoing later in life. "She ballooned like a dirigible", her nephew Professor Thrupiece noted, "she was so massive, Corscombe Cricket Club employed her as both a mascot and a heavy roller".

Ms Blankers-Thrupiece died in 1985 as a result of complications following an argument with a family-sized Walls Vanilla Ice-Cream Brick. "It seems a pity to let it melt" are believed to be her last recorded words.


Flying Frannie by Joseph Stalin (b 1878).  Few knew the mass murderer could paint let alone that he "held a Soviet flame" for Ms Blankers-Thrupiece, having seen her compete in the 1948 Olympic Games in the Underwater Synchronised Dialectics event.

Flying Frannie by Joseph Stalin (b 1878). Few knew the mass murderer could paint let alone that he "held an inextinguishable Soviet flame" for Ms Blankers-Thrupiece, having seen her compete in the 1948 Olympic Games in the Underwater Synchronised Dialectics event. In the background the artist has added a romanticised version of himself sharing a tether with Ms Blankers-Thrupiece: a rare example of socialist realism compromised by formalist diachronic lust.


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