Everything I do, I intend to make on a large scale. . . . Size itself has its own impact, and physically we can relate more strongly to a big sculpture than to a small one.
Gagosian, in collaboration with the Henry Moore Foundation, is pleased to present a major exhibition of large-scale sculptures by Henry Moore, which opened at Gagosian’s Britannia Street location in London earlier this year.
A pioneer of modern British sculpture, Moore engaged the abstract, the surreal, the primitive, and the classical in vigorous corporeal forms that are as accessible and familiar as they are avant-garde. His monumental sculptures celebrated the power of organic forms at a time when traditional representation was largely eschewed by the vanguard art establishment. The overwhelming physicality of their scale and forceful presence promotes a charged relation between sculpture, site, and viewer. Reclining Figure: Hand (1979) is immediately identifiable as a human form despite its modulated stylization. The rounded, cloudlike body, which contrasts with a “knife-edge” head derived from bird bone, attests to Moore’s more exploratory impulses when compared to Reclining Connected Forms (1969), where he alludes to body parts using the vocabulary of mechanical components. Large Two Forms (1966) takes its shape from flints, whereas Large Spindle Piece (1974) reveals an interest in both natural and human-made objects.
It was Moore’s intention that these large-scale works be interacted with, viewed close-up, and even touched. Given their heft and mass, they are most commonly sited outdoors, subject to the effects of changing light, weather, and landscape. But seen within the pristine white environment of the gallery, the contrasting shapes, patinas, and sheer scale of the sculptures are more keenly felt. Brimming with latent energy, their richly textured surfaces and sensual, rippling arcs and concavities can be seen to new effect.
This exhibition also includes a number of maquettes and found objects from Moore’s studio in rural Hertfordshire, which he called his “library of natural forms.” Crafted from plaster and Plasticine, these small-scale models were a vital step in realizing great sculptural schema. Fragments of bone, flint, and shell provided Moore with aesthetic inspiration: the curve and texture of animal bone was cast as the neck and head of Maquette for Seated Woman: Thin Neck (1960), and a piece of flint from the local sheep fields was used to create the open and pointed forms of Maquette for Spindle Piece (1968).
A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition, with essays by Anita Feldman, the exhibition’s curator and head of collections and exhibitions at the Henry Moore Foundation; and art historian Anne Wagner, former Moore Research Curator at Tate.
Gagosian Quarterly Fall 2019
The Fall 2019 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring a detail from Sinking (2019) by Nathaniel Mary Quinn on its cover.
Nature and Inspiration: Henry Moore at Houghton Hall
Sebastiano Barassi reflects on the centrality of nature in the work of Henry Moore—as form, material, inspiration, and site.
An Evolving Legacy
A look inside the Henry Moore Foundation, their new initiatives, and what’s next.