When Henry Moore’s eight-foot bronze Reclining Figure: Festival sold at a New York auction house for £19.1m in 2012, it made him the second most expensive British artist of the 20th century, ahead of Lucian Freud and Damien Hirst. With this fact in mind, it’s amazing that so many of his sculptures are still freely accessible to the public. That’s the way Moore would have wanted it, of course: he sold or gifted many of his sculptures on the proviso they were placed in public spaces for all to enjoy.
For the rest, there’s always Henry Moore: Sculptures and Drawings, a new exhibition that’s opening on 22 May at Osborne Samuel Gallery in Mayfair. It’s set to be the first major show of Moore’s work since the Tate’s retrospective in 2010, including some never-before-seen gems.
“The show includes several works that have never been seen publicly, and features sculpture and drawings from the collection of Moore’s sister Elizabeth Howarth, alongside key works spanning his whole career,” says Peter Obsborne, co-director of the gallery. “This will give collectors a unique insight into Moore, and a unique investment opportunity.”
To whet your appetite, here’s our pick of Moore’s sculptures on display around the capital.
This relief sculpture was cut as deeply as the building to round the form out and suggest a 3D sculpture because Moore disliked the concept of reliefs. As they were designed to decorate the surface of a building, Moore felt that reliefs were always subservient to architects, added as an afterthought rather than an integral part of the building. But he said he was young and the architect “persuasive”, so he agreed to carve a piece that suggested a full spatial richness.
This 366cm bronze sits on a site near the House of Lords. Moore liked the site because of its public accessibility; it’s near a busy pathway and there are seats nearby for passersby to sit down and contemplate the work “unlike the placing of the very fine equestrian statue of Charles I in Trafalgar Square,” he said, “which in order to look at closely... you have to risk your life in crossing a maze of traffic.”
Homeworkers will welcome the wi-fi enabled gardens and “Get Connected” lounge at Oakmayne’s new development in Southwark, which also has a residents’ coffee shop to keep you caffeinated. Then you can retire afterwards to the cinema room, restaurant or chill out lounge.
The lifted gaze of these three women suggests they’re conscious of being outside and their expression creates a sense of communion. The figures are made from a light Darley Dale stone, which was chosen because it would have weathered well in New York’s sea air, as Moore originally intended to sell this piece to the Museum of Modern Art.
This piece has been loaned to Network Rail as a further boon to the £550m re-development of King’s Cross Station. It took a long time to reach the public arena as it was dropped while at a stone quarry in Italy where it was sent to be enlarged and carved in travertine marble. The piece was poorly repaired and had to undergo considerable restoration before it was fit to be displayed.
Located a stone’s throw from Tate Britain, Moore got the idea of creating this 290cm bronze made of two interlocking pieces from some pebbles he found in a gravel pit. He played around with them and found they locked together. After spending a while trying to break them apart, he turned one and it suddenly lifted from the other. He was fascinated by the mystery of how they got into that position and set about recreating the natural phenomenon in stone.