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Indepth Arts News:

"Henry Moore: Imaginary Landscapes"
2003-04-02 until 2003-09-30
Henry Moore Foundation at Perry Green
Hertfordshire, , UK United Kingdom

The 2003 visitor season at the Henry Moore Foundation in Hertfordshire sees the opening of a new exhibition in the Sheep Field Barn Gallery. A new theme is presented in the galleries every two years and this exhibition, Imaginary Landscapes looks at the way in which landscape pervades Moore’s work. The exhibition includes items on loan from the Tate Gallery, Leeds City Art Gallery, Wakefield Art Gallery and the British Council alongside work from The Foundation’s own collection.

Moore combined two of his enduring fascinations, the human figure and the landscape perfectly illustrating his comments that ‘knees and breasts are mountains’. Woman 1957-58 and Reclining Figure: Hand 1979 relate the female form to undulating hills, while the multiple-piece compositions that he began in 1959 break the figure down more dramatically into separate monumental masses that resemble rock formations. The transformation of the body into landscape is not restricted to his three-dimensional work. Head of Conrad Verkell (after Dürer) 1979, for example, was begun as a drawing after a Dürer portrait but, in a surreal twist, Moore has Verkell looking down from the sky on to a rocky landscape derived directly from his own craggy features. 

Particularly striking throughout the exhibition is the way in which Moore plays with scale. Stone Maze: Project for Hill Monument 1977, a table-top plaster labyrinth cast from bones, was photographed under Moore’s supervision to appear as monumental as Stonehenge, a subject that is also represented in the exhibition. The surface and interior spaces of an elephant skull  was a catalyst for a series of etchings in which its points and hollows became fantastic architecture, mysterious caverns or desert dunes. In drawings, Moore’s viewpoint ranges from ant’s-eye view, looking up at towering natural features, to a bird’s-eye view of imagined worlds.

A number of works on paper from the Foundation’s collection will be on public display for the first time, revealing the variety and depth of Moore’s explorations of the world around him. His sublime interpretations of fjords, chasms, icebergs and giant rock formations are dramatic and often unsettling, while atmospheric wooded scenes derived from blots and splashes or the delicate landscapes inspired by Japanese drawing reveal a more lyrical side.

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