We all want some Moore

Henry Moore, Reclining Figure sculpture.Is it me, or is Henry Moore everywhere at the moment?

There’s a huge retrospective exhibition about the artist on display at Tate Britain at the moment. The show has been beautifully put together, not only in the careful selection of objects from Tate’s collection, and others, but also in the way it’s been presented.

There’s very little interpretive architecture to guide us through any particular story of the exhibition – indeed, I finished looking around and wondered what it is Tate wanted me to ‘get’ from the show. Yet it seems to be a very well paced exhibition, allowing the visitor plenty of time to get to grips with each section and to fully appreciate the art works.

Henry Moore (1898-1986) is most famous as a sculptor and there are sculptures, large and small, here of course. But I was particularly pleased to find Moore’s drawings here as well – of underground scenes in a colliery, and also of the life in the tube network during the Second World War, when Moore was commissioned as a war artist. Life in the underground during the Blitz must have been hot, smelly and filled with fear and dread, but these gentle, tender snapshots of life in the tunnels have a tranquil calm about them, perhaps because Moore most often shows people sleeping.

I first fell in love with these drawings when they were on display at Dulwich Picture Gallery in 2003, when the gallery played host to an exhibition of Moore’s work.

And of course, Moore was good friends and a Unit One collaborator with Paul Nash (1889-1946), the subject of the current temporary exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery. Paul Nash: the Elements is on at the Gallery until Sunday 9 May. Nash is also famous for his war art, but in his case it’s the First World War. But both artists took the opportunity to look at the world around them, consumed by war, and to reflect it in their own mind’s eye. I think we can see some of what they felt about changing society in both of their artworks, different as they are.

Moore has also been the subject of an exhibition in the last few years at the Imperial War Museum (2007) and there was a huge outdoor exhibition of some of his larger works at Kew Gardens (2008).

So, it’s clear that Moore is a great subject for exhibitions, but since seeing the show at Tate I’ve found myself bumping into the man wherever I go. Just this week I saw face looming out of a photographic portrait by Irving Penn in his own retrospective exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. (It’s well worth a visit, if you’re into black and white photography and celebrities).

I noticed on New Bond Street recently a Moore fresco on the Time Life building, installed in 1952. I wasn’t sure if it was Moore or not, but on closer inspection – and a bit of in-the-street-googling – it became clear that it was.

And then a few days later I was walking by the Houses of Parliament and my eye was drawn to the sculpture Knife Edge – Two Piece (1962) in the gardens there.

See, Henry Moore is just everywhere. Where else have you spotted Henry Moore? Drop us an email or leave us a comment on this article.

And remember, our Paul Nash competition is still open. Do get your entries in before the closing date on 9 May.

Images: Thank you to the lovely people at Tate.
“Henry Moore
Reclining Figure 1939
Detroit Institute of Arts © Reproduced by permission of The Henry Moore Foundation”

“Henry Moore
Tube Shelter Perspective Liverpool Street Extension 1941
Tate © Reproduced by permission of The Henry Moore Foundation”

Thanks also, with CCL, to mermaid99 and Sofia S on flickr.

About this article

Steve Slack

About Steve Slack

Steve Slack is a writer and researcher based in East Dulwich. He’s most often to be found either in a museum or in the bar. Or even museums which have bars. Steve blogs about museums, galleries and all sorts of things at steveslack.co.uk.

One Comment

  1. Shapa Begum 20 Mar 2010

    You’ll also find one of Moore’s sculptures at Battersea Park – Three Standing Figures. I’ve always admired Moore’s art works. I’ll definitely visit the exhibition at the Tate, I wasn’t aware of the exhibition until I read your article, thanks Steve!


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