Sculpting the 20th Century

By Kosinski, Dorothy | Southwest Art, February 2001 | Go to article overview

Sculpting the 20th Century


Kosinski, Dorothy, Southwest Art


A NEW HENRY MOORE RETROSPECTIVE TRAVELS THE COUNTRY

The first United States retrospective of Henry Moore's work in nearly 20 years opens at the Dallas Museum of Art on February 25 and continues through May 27. It then travels to the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Henry Moore, Sculpting the 20th Century looks at the artist's important role in the development of modern sculpture, presenting 207 works spanning more than 60 years.

The exhibition includes 109 bronzes, carvings, maquettes, and plaster sculptures ranging from hand-size to 40 feet in width. The 98 drawings include early portraits, studies for sculptures, and works made when Moore served as an official war artist during World War II. Several themes in the artist's work are examined: mother and child, surrealism, and large-scale public works.

The following are excerpts from Dr. Dorothy Kosinski's essay in the exhibition catalog. Dr. Kosonski organized the exhibition in collaboration with the Henry Moore Foundation.

In Henry Moore's obituary, pub fished on September 1, 1986, in the New York Times, John Russell described the widespread resonance of and related ambivalence about Moore's work: "Somewhat to the annoyance of those who felt he had altogether too large a share of the market, his work found virtually universal favor. It was loved by people the world over-and not least by those who had never looked at the work of another sculptor. In a world at odds with itself, his sculpture got through to an enormous constituency as something that stood for breadth and generosity of feeling."

The sculptor's undeniably important contribution to art in the public space is arguably the most compelling reason for Moore's greatness, and one that transcends any individ ual work of art. The breathtaking acceleration of his career after the Venice Biennale in 1948 [where he won the International Prize for Sculpture]-embodied in his astonishing string of public works installed over the next almost 40 years from London to Paris to Berlin to Chicago to New York-forever changed the face of the art world, enabling it to expand into the public arena not only physically but also aesthetically and politically.

Following World War II Moore had special symbolic significance in bomb-battered Britain, anxious to rebuild and eager to celebrate its survival. His Madonnas and family groups were the perfect vessels for the message of renewed family values, assisting in the retooling of the workplace and, for instance, the return of working women to the hearth after the war effort. …

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