Gagosian and the Henry Moore Foundation have teamed up to present an exhibition focused on Moore's last twenty years of work, a period characterized by monumental abstract forms — the artist called them "‘architectural contrasts of masses" — destined for public display in urban contexts.
"Throughout his career [Moore] continually examined the relationship of figure to environment," Anita Feldman, curator of the Gagosian show and the Henry Moore Foundation's head of collections and exhibitions, told ARTINFO UK. "Beneath all his work, regardless of its seeming abstraction, is a humanity and engagement with the forms of nature. However, from the mid-1960s onwards, Moore redefined his approach, finding that tough abstract forms were needed to hold their own against the strong geometric character of a modern city site. This later sculpture began to function not as a harmonizer between modern architecture and the landscape as previously, but as a force in its own right, producing weighty powerful forms that could hold their own in any setting, whether in the windswept fields of Perry Green or the streets of London, New York or Hong Kong."
The twist of this exhibition, which opens on May 31, is to present these behemoth sculptures within the manicured surroundings of Gagosian's Britannia Street outpost. This simple gesture of re-contextualization will change the sense of scale, transforming the visitors' relationship to the sculptures, with all the possibilities for re-appraisal that this entails. But some might argue that the spatial displacement goes against the way the artist himself wanted his pieces to be perceived.
Feldman is convinced that the potential gains outweigh the risk. "This at once challenges both the architecture and the viewer," she said. "Powerful forms demand space, and suddenly the public entering this dynamic become a part of this dialogue."
"Henry Moore, Late Large Forms," May 31 –August 18, 2012 Gagosian Gallery, Britannia Street, London.
A version of this story appeared on ARTINFO UK.