Henry Moore – More of an influence on contemporary art than you might think

27 Apr

On Monday I visited Tate Britain’s Henry Moore exhibition, which I would give three out of five stars.  The exhibition itself is singularly focused upon Moore’s work, but what I drew from this exhibition, however, was the number of correlations between Moore’s work and that of later and more contemporary artists. 

I enjoyed being left to use my own intelligence and draw upon my knowledge to see links between Moore and other artists, although this may prove more curatorially interesting.  However the catalogue does devote a section to those inspired by Moore, but (from a quick look in the shop) highlights entirely different connections to the ones I was drawn to.

The works that particularly interested me were a drawing/painting of a large (figurative) statue wrapped in a white sheet tied on with ropes, the spiting image of the technique applied in Christo and Jean-Claude’s practice with works such as Wrapped Reichstag, similarly surrounded by a crowd of spectators, and a work titled something like Bird Basket.  The second work is curated as part of a series of sculptural works with parallel strings stretched across voids, which to me is iconic of Naum Gabo’s work.  However with this particular piece, inside the outer basket form with a section of blue strings covering, sits a circular tube of red strings stretched across through a narrowing at the centre.  When done more opaquely with red PVC and on a much grander scale this forms Anish Kapoor’s Marsyas that was installed in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall.

Finally one of the carved Elmwood Reclining Figures in the last room of the show has legs that are quite square apart from the beautifully curved joints, which made me instinctively think of Keith Haring’s outline paintings of figures.  Perhaps Haring sketched from this work at some point?

Overall I’m not a great fan of Moore – abstract figurative forms don’t provide much intellectual stimulation for me, although his Underground air raid shelter and coal mine images are haunting with their gritty depiction of crowds of ghostly, even skeletal, figures in the dark, which indeed bring similarities with Francis Bacon’s paintings.  However, it seems that Moore has had a great influence over the practice of other artists and it is likely this exhibition will inspire new generations of artists to take on his legacy.

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