The Henry Moore Foundation was established in 1977 with a gift from the internationally renowned sculptor (1898-1986). For seven months of the year, the Foundation opens the doors of Moore’s former estate in rural Hertfordshire to the public.
In 2013, the season’s centrepiece is an exhibition which compares Moore’s practice to that of Auguste Rodin (1840-1917). The dialogue begins outside: works by the two artists – giants, respectively, of 19th- and 20th-century Western sculpture – are positioned strategically throughout the gardens and some of the sheep-filled fields which make up the 72-acre estate. Although differences abound (most strikingly the contrasts between the carved and the modelled; an elemental humanism and psychological intensity), there are also similarities in the sculptors’ rethinking of figure and form. Inside the Sheep Field Barn, this affinity is drawn out further, through a meticulously curated display of the artists’ smaller sculptures, models and drawings.
A tour of Hoglands, the home of Moore and wife Irina for nearly 50 years, offers up glimpses of the man behind the now almost inescapable myth. Two-dimensional works by Renoir, Picasso, Ivon Hitchens and Honoré Daumier jostle for space with pre-Colombian, Cycladic and Oceanic sculpture and the paraphernalia of everyday life. Knowledgeable invigilators are on hand in each carefully restored room to point out some of the house’s hidden treasures (here, curtains made from one of Moore’s textile designs; there, a photograph of the artist with German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt) and to answer any questions visitors might have. Even once you’re done with the house, gardens and temporary exhibition space, there’s more to explore: tapestries made in collaboration with the West Dean Tapestry Workshop in the Aisled Barn and, in several of Moore’s purpose-built studios, a video, photographic displays and maquettes which illuminate the sculptor’s working methods.
Celia Dunne, Publishing Assistant
The Henry Moore Foundation, Perry Green, near Much Hadham, Hertfordshire, SG10 6EE
Open Wednesday to Sunday and bank holidays 11am – 5pm, until 27 October 2013
Admission £15 (concessions available)