Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Henry Moore Deluxe: Books Prints & Portfolios

Henry Moore at work on an etching plate in 1968 (Elephant Skull album)
original photo by Errol Jackson in 1968 / Henry Moore Archive
all photos copyright Katherine Tyrrell / Courtesy The Henry Moore Foundation

Henry Moore Deluxe: Books Prints & Portfolios is a new exhibition of Henry Moore's work - but unlike the current Henry Moore exhibition at Tate Britain which has 150 stone sculptures, wood carvings, bronzes and drawings this one focuses on his graphic work. It's an exhibition I can highly recomend to all fine art print-makers and those interested in the print-making process.

The exhibition is being held at the Sheep Barn Galleries at Perry Green until 30th August. It's the last exhibition to be curated by David Mitchinson, the Head of Collections and Exhibitions who retired on 31st March after working first with Moore and then the Henry Moore Fondation for a total of 42 years.

Moore began to collaborate on print-making initiatives in 1931. Print-making formed an increasingly important part of Moore's work as he became older. By 1968 he had created some 100 works, however between 1968 and 1986 when he died that total had increased to 719 prints - all of which are described in the new book (see below). In total Moore created 73 different albums or deluxe books - of which 53 are represented in the exhibition.

The exhibition features a great range in the prints he produced. Motifs cover his better known mother and child motif and reclining figures - but also include Animals in the Zoo and less well known editions of his work. I know I was most surprised by the animals in zoo in the upstairs gallery.

As aways I always find myself 'drawn' (pun intended) to the works which are about line and hatching and which make me think that maybe my own work might develop in a similar way. I know I'm going to be having a go at seeing how his way of drawing works. I know that when I've done that with other artists I find out and understand a whole lot more about who they are and how they like to work. (Have you ever tried this?)

I was surprised to find that it was his habit to sketch using a biro but on reflection it also explains some of the fluidity in line which he achieves.

Some of the subjects matter will surprise people used to 'conventional' Moore images while others remind one of aspects of his sculpture.

I particularly enjoyed:
  • the Elephant Skull series which overall was my favourite. Moore had an elephant's skull in his studio (see top) and then drew it in sections from every angle. A set of etchings were then created as a limited edition. One of these I liked in particular and was convinced it was a landscape - and I'll be commenting on that one on The Art of the Landscape.
Elephant series: display case and etchings
A display case
  • the Artist's Hand - etchings of his hands in different positions - very simple and very effective.
  • the Tightrope series - and the demonstration of how it worked from sketchbook through different editions
Display case of tightrope sketchbook and prints
  • There's a set of simple images of mothers playing with their children which I found most attractive
  • I'm also totally in love with his sheep. (There is of course a book devoted to his Sheep Sketchbook). Once at Perry Green you can understand how they came to feature in his graphic work - and of course the gallery is in the former sheep barn!
Solid in form, sudden and vigourous in movement, Henry Moore's sheep are created through a network of swirling and zigzagging lines in the rapid and (in the artist's hands) sensitive medium of ballpoint pen. The effect is both familiar and monumental; as Lord Clark comments, 'We expect Henry Moore to give a certain nobility to everything he draws; but more surprising is the way in which these drawings express a feeling of real affection for their subject'.
Sheep by Henry Moore

A Moore/Rothko/Matisse "collaborative collage"

It was also interesting to see examples of how Moore took existing prints and then developed new work. There's one very good example which David Mitchinson showed me - which incorporates an appropriation of a Rothko background and a Matisse drawing alongside the Moore motif as a collage from which a new work was created

It was also fascinating to see how he created work to illustrate the work of others - such as poets - in collboration with others as group tributes

The exhibition also contains some sculptural work notably maquettes, which, if you take a photo (below) in a particular way can look pretty big even though they are actually pretty small.

Maquette for The Arches and prints

The full size sculpture of The Arches created from the maquette on the right is very much larger in real life and has moved around quite a bit - here it is in front of in front of the Karlskirche in Vienna and in a Moore exhibition at the New York Botanical Garden in 2008!

One final note - I'd like to congratulate those whoever did the labelling - it's so much better for the paper fiends amongst us when all the media AND the type of paper are specified!

Henry Moore: Prints and Portfolios

David Mitchinson is also the author of a new book Henry Moore: Prints and Portfolios which has been published to coincide with the exhibition. The edition of 1500 will retail at a price of £75. It will also appear in a deluxe edition of 50 priced at £2,000. Each of these will contain an issue of Moore's first etching and his last lithograph. It charts the history and development of Moore's graphic work and collaboration with various fine art printers.

The new book will be available online from the shop website in a couple of days.


1 comment:

Cathy Gatland said...

I love those sheep too - and of course the sheep sketchbook! Great to hear about this aspect of Moore's work Katherine, thank you.

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