The Arts Council Henry Moore Collection takes up residence at Leamington Spa Art Gallery

By Richard Moss | 24 February 2012
a photo of an abstract figurative scuplture in bronze
Working Model for Reclining Figure: Internal/External Form, Henry Moore (1951). Bronze© The Henry Moore Foundation. Courtesy Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London
Exhibition: Henry Moore in the Arts Council Collection, Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum, Leamington Spa, until April 15 2012

As an advisor to the Arts Council acquisitions committee during the early 1950s, Henry Moore advocated post-war British sculptors such as Kenneth Armitage, Lynn Chadwick and Barbara Hepworth. It was a magnanimous gesture by the then giant of contemporary art and it helped forge careers and shape the Arts Council's sculpture collection.

But the committee was also keen to acquire some key examples of Moore’s and during the 1950s, several pieces were acquired. Eight drawings and seven more sculptures followed after an Arts Council touring exhibition of his work during the early 1960s.

Today, Moore’s work and influence looms large over the collection and this exhibition is the first to feature the complete holding.

Spanning 50 years and encompassing drawings, preparatory studies and full blown sculptures, it offers one of the best overviews of Moore since Tate’s 2010 blockbuster.

It is perhaps more succinct, comprising in total 11 sculptures and 15 works on paper, but the works still manage to offer a comprehensive overview of style, idea and approach.

Moore, of course, didn’t work in a vacuum. Look at his figurative sculptures and you may be reminded of the thick-limbed forms of Picasso and Leger. In his stringed sculptures, reminders of the abstract shapes of Braque lurk.

But in terms of modern British art he remains a huge figure and this exhibition reminds us, in a very tangible sense, just why. 

The exhibition is accompanied by a mezzanine screening of John Read's 1951 BBC documemtary about Henry Moore, Art is the expression of imagination and not the imitation of life, which can also be seen on the BBC archive website.  

Following its presentation at Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum the exhibition will tour to another five venues within the UK during 2012 and 2013.

More pictures:

a bronze scuplture with four abstract figures in an intergrated frame and plinth
Time/Life Screen: Working Model (1952). Bronze© © The Henry Moore Foundation. Courtesy Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London.
a dark charcoal sketch of sleeping figures beneath blankets
Sleeping Mother and Child, undated. Print on paper© The Henry Moore Foundation. Courtesy Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London
a photo of an abstract bronze bowl-shaped sculpture with strings
Stringed Figure (1938). Bronze and string© The Henry Moore Foundation. Courtesy Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London
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