Moore Gallery, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto.
Henry Moore Sculpture Centre.
Skylighted, by 24 10'x10' translucent ceiling windows, each set in box partitions in cast concrete roof.
Overhead spot lamps, 2 to 3 in each skylight box, focussed on scupltures.
No side lighting.
Gallery estimated about 60' wide and 150' long.
Roof skylight boxes about 25' above floor.
16 Moore sculptures scattered, almost equidistant from each other, around gallery, each on box or column pedestal about 2 1/2' to 3 1/2' high.
Collection consists of plaster casts which were also cast in bronze; plaster casts by Moore and worked-clay and plaster by Moore.
Walls, roof boxes are shades of light gray; walls of gallery are gray; floor made of 3'x3' blackish-gray marable tiles separated by grouting.
Plaster casts are monumental size; trials for bronze; --> plaster is generally of egg-shell white, most casts also with dark-gray tool markings creating surface texture.
2. Over-All Initial Impression
Only one entrance > to long side of gallery; panoramic view of gallery; pieces have archaeological quality and isolated from landscape or architectural environments (for which bronze casts were destined) as if on altars.
Initial impression = extraordinarily powerful; venerated objects; stopped me, stunned, at entry way into gallery, even though architecturally the room is designed with wide-spaces between pieces and 30' wide open portico to invite viewer in.
Notice that other visitors also, all, stopped at entrance to survey exhibition, so not just me.
Even though stopped at entrance, exhibition not pictoral and two-dimension.
Irregular placement of pieces in gallery emphasized - through effect of gallery as a whole - the three-dimensional mass of casts.
Certain qualities of Moore's artistry came out = monumental, reverence | spiritual power of human form, regal quality of figure poses.
Poses evoke inner contemplation by figures of some dream or power; detachment from landscapes; self-sufficiency of inner spiritual power.
(Different way from effect of Moore's environmental bronzes to produce sense of regalness of figure and inner power.)
Fusion of sexual power with inner dream of figures identified clearly in 3 pieces.
Plaster casts give powerful sense of Moore's presence = as if artist had just left room = surface texture has feel of studio process, of a living quality because tentative; surface animation = esp. nos. 88 + 129 drapery.
Drapery comes across more effective than I remember effect of bronze casts of same figures.
Sexual energy = nos. 145 + 164. No. 145 2 piece figure = one piece almost detached penis and balls, even though seems conceptually referring to hip-leg bone joints or vertebrae. No. 164 = reclining figure = long sweep of upright figure imitates motion of hand of lover stroking, in one long motion, back down to buttocks or abdomen to thighs.
No. 145. Photo of two piece reclining figure no. 1:
No. 164. Photos of other casts of the working model for the reclining figure at Lincoln Center:
Photo of the reclining figure sculpture in its Lincoln Center installation:
Castration theme = no. 131 seems restrained, wounded; head position to side as if turning or recoiling from injury - even if only from internal memory or idea of injury, as when a person jerks head while miming internal ideas of injury.
My initial reaction in walking up to the Moore Gallery on upper floor = to my reaction to walking into British Museum exhibition room with Elgin marbles. Temple-like setting; objects of archaeological power possessing aura of ancient mystical | regal | reverence.
A new vision of Moore's sculptures; to be appreciated independent of Moore's intent to situate them in a landscape or to their landscape metaphoric references.
(Click image to enlarge)
Key to Layout of Gallery
162 = Three piece reclining Figure no 2 Bridge 1963
163 = Working model for Locking Piece 1962
123 = Working model for UNESCO Reclining Figure 1957
144 = Reclining Figure on Pedestal 1959-60
158 = Three-piece Reclining Figure No. 1 1961-62
111 = Upright Motive No. 8 1955-56
129 = Draped Reclining Woman 1957-58
164 = Working Model for Reclining Figure; Lincoln Centre, 1963-65
145 = Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 1 1959
106 = Upright Motive No. 1: Glenkiln Cross, 1955-1956
88 = Draped Reclining Figure, 1952-53
146 = Two-piece Reclining Figure No. 2, 1966
85 = Reclining Figure 1951
127 = Draped Seated Woman, 1957-58
131 = Woman, 1957-58
168 = Atom Piece (Working model for nuclear energy) 1964-65
Photographs and descriptions of all the pieces referenced above are available in the gallery catalog, Alan G. Wilkinson, The Moore Collection in the Art Gallery of Ontario (Art Gallery of Ontario, 1979).