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Edmund de Waal, has curated an exhibition of works by Henry Moore in which visitors will be encouraged to touch some of the sculptures

Moore holding the plaster maquette for Reclining Figure: Hand 1976, (LH 707) Photo: Henry Moore Archive
Moore holding the plaster maquette for Reclining Figure: Hand 1976, (LH 707) Photo: Henry Moore Archive

The acclaimed artist and author, Edmund de Waal, has curated an exhibition of works by Henry Moore in which visitors will be encouraged to touch some of the sculptures. Entitled This Living Hand: Edmund de Waal Presents Henry Moore, the exhibition will focus on the role of touch and the hand in Henry Moore’s art and will also include a series of original sculptures. It will be shown at Henry Moore Studios & Gardens, Hertfordshire, from 3 April 2020.

Moore believed that ‘tactile experience is very important as an aesthetic dimension in sculpture’. Throughout his career he repeatedly emphasised the importance of experiencing sculpture through touch, and often returned to the hand as a subject in his sculpture and drawings, studying its expressive power and symbolic values as Auguste Rodin and Michelangelo, two of his favourite artists, had done before him.

This Living Hand will focus on Moore’s interest in the hand as a subject, from the monumental bronze Reclining Figure: Hand 1979 to the numerous two dimensional studies he made of his own and other subjects’ hands – including the drawings and lithographs made in 1978 of the winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Dorothy Hodgkin, who asked Moore to use her hands as her portrait.

Edmund de Waal said:

“To be able to touch Moore’s sculpture is a unique experience. It brings our haptic knowledge into connection with the hands of his King and Queen (1952-53), the patinated surface of Reclining Figure: Hand (1979). We see a Wunderkammer of objects that Moore kept close by him at home, objects of haptic sustenance and renewal. We see a life of reflection on how hands become sculpture. We are returned to what knowledge our own hands hold.

I’ve been making things for fifty years. My job is to make things. How objects get handled, used and handed on is not just a mildly interesting question for me. It is a question that I live with and is present in both my sculpture and my writing. It underpins my book, The Hare with Amber Eyes (2010), tracing my family’s story through the history of a netsuke collection – a history of touch.

The invitation to work here is extraordinary. In this exhibition I am trying to create space to look at Moore’s work and to handle it. I hope it will encourage visitors to pause, so I have made several benches from Horton stone.”

Sebastiano Barassi, Head of Collections & Exhibitions at the Henry Moore Foundation, said:

“The Henry Moore Foundation is delighted to collaborate with Edmund de Waal on this project, which we believe will have a profound impact on the understanding of Henry Moore’s place in the history of art and highlight his continuing relevance for contemporary practice. The authoritative voice of a world-class artist and author like de Waal will no doubt play an important part in shaping new and original narratives around Moore, and introduce fresh ways of looking at his work. Edmund’s wonderful talent for storytelling through objects and his unrivalled visual sensitivity put him in a unique position to curate a visually tantalising show and write eloquently about this most intriguing subject.”

This Living Hand: Edmund de Waal Presents Henry Moore Henry Moore Studios & Gardens, Perry Green, Hertfordshire SG10 6EE 3 April – 25 October 2020

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