Tate Modern Turbine Hall
19 May – 25 August 2003
Henry Moore: Public Sculptures brings together around twenty works by the sculptor in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern. The display focuses on the large monumental public sculptures that Henry Moore (1898-1986) made from the 1940s onwards including many of the most important examples.
The selection includes a number of very important loans and covers over twenty years of Moore’s career. It includes his first large public commission Madonna and Child 1943 on loan from the Church of St Matthew, Northampton. In the following years Moore made some of the best-known public sculptures of the period including the Barclay School Family Group 1949, the Festival of Britain Reclining Figure 1951, King and Queen 1952-3, Upright Motive No.1 1955-6, Glenkiln Cross 1955-6 and Atom Piece (Working Model for Nuclear Energy) 1964-5. The selection is predominantly drawn from the Tate Collection, which benefited from the artist’s substantial gift in 1978. This is the second display in the Turbine Hall drawn from sculptures in the Tate Collection, following The Upright Figure in 2002.
Departing from the recent focus on Moore’s pre-war work, the display brings attention to the considerable formal and conceptual range of his mature work. In his lifetime, Moore’s reputation as Britain’s leading sculptor was established by his public sculptures. Sited throughout the world, these works address a global audience in an uncompromising modernist idiom. They are assured and inventive, demonstrating a remarkable formal variety and breadth of ideas.
Henry Moore studied at the Leeds College of Art (1919-1921), and the Royal College of Art, London (1921-1925). While at College in London he was encouraged by Epstein to study primitive art. He travelled to Paris in 1923 to study the work of the contemporary sculptors Picasso and Brancusi, and to Italy in 1925 where he was inspired by the work of Giotto and Masaccio. He had his first one man exhibition in 1928 of sculpture characterised by its truth to materials and its vitality. 1928 was also the year he received his first public commission – the West Wind relief on the London Transport building, St James’s, London. In 1933 he was a founder-member of Unit One with Nash, Hepworth and Nicholson. Moore’s work in the 1930s straddled the two rival camps of European Modernism: Surrealism and Abstraction. Between 1940-3 he worked as a war artist. The Shelter Drawings, which showed the suffering and stoicism of Londoners taking shelter from the Blitz, established a mass audience for Moore’s graphic works. The large monumental sculptures he made over the next forty years established him as one of the most well-known artists of the twentieth century.
The display is curated by Tate Curators Matthew Gale and Toby Treves. It is supported by The Henry Moore Foundation.