Henry Moore – Tate Britain

Not knowing a vast amount about Henry Moore and having read favourable reviews of Tate’s exploration of some of his darker themes I decided to see what all the fuss was about.

Firstly I would say that in addition to Tate’s exhibition it was well worth going to see a response piece called  ‘Don’t do any more Henry Moore’ across the road at the Chelsea School of Art which explores the life of one of his pieces through some well chosen (and wonderfully human) correspondence. It’s open til tomorrow I believe so do pop in if you’re around Millbank!

Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 1, 1959

Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 1, 1959 (Chelsea space)

Now, rather than an in-depth review I think it’s best to outline some thoughts which occurred to me and some questions I had:

1. His work is hugely tactile yet the whole exhibition expressly forbids touching. Obviously I do understand the reasons behind this but given the works seem to invite a human interaction, preventing it detracts from the experience.

2. I actually preferred his drawings to his sculptures. They conveyed emotions with more strength and their physical composition was fascinating. A particular favourite was the crowd waiting for a sculpture to be unveiled (you will have to make do with my sketch of this).

Crowd looking at a tied up object, 1942

Crowd looking at a tied up object, 1942

3. He put a vagina in the wrong place. I know it’s a strange thing to be struck by but he did (Reclining Figure, 1936). From someone who has a great capacity for expressing the human form in few gestures a misplaced vagina is very jarring.

4. Why do so many of his pleasingly organic sculptures have a ruddy great geometrically precise plinth to rest on – is that not a little disruptive?

5. Not all of his freestanding work is actually engaging through 360 degrees. Several of the elm sculptures lost their way when I strayed away from the reclining figure’s perceived gaze.

I’d be interested to know if anyone else felt the same way or, indeed, completely disagreed with me and fancies explaining why!