Skip to Content

Art Gallery of Ontario

Keyword Site Search

Art Matters Blog

Henry Moore: The Installation

October 20th, 2010

By Michael Parke-Taylor

Reclining Woman, 1930

I’ve always said that the actual installation of works in an exhibition is the fun part!  The name of the game is to stay flexible in the face of constant changes – be adaptable and be creative.   

The goal of an installation is to make the art come alive and speak to the visitor.  You can make a great artist look terrible or even better than ever thought possible, depending on how the work is installed.

In this exhibition, I’ve been fortunate to collaborate with the very talented 3D designer, Emma Reddington.  She and I have been faced with the very interesting challenge of making large works of sculpture fit into awkward shaped galleries.  Some pieces demand to be seen in the round, while others can be situated in proximity to a wall and have an astounding impact. 

Therein lays the challenge – to make sure that there is room for both the art and the crowd.  The sculpture needs to be safe and at the same time accessible – and it needs to look great!

For more information on The Shape of Anxiety: Henry Moore in the 1930s, click here.

Henry Moore: What’s In A Name?

October 18th, 2010

By David Wistow

Bird Basket, 1939

A lot rides on a title.  How do museums like the AGO name their exhibitions? Sometimes the process can be long and complicated, and involve many players both inside and outside the institution.  It can be a big challenge to capture the complex ideas of a show in just a few pithy words. Usually the exhibition team of interpretive planner, curator, public relations and marketing experts meet for an hour and toss around ideas. Then they meet again a week or so later and continue the discussion, followed by conversations with colleagues in other departments on what they think, until a fairly wide consensus is arrived at.  Only to come back to the table, and narrow it down to the one title that represents all feelings and opinions.

 With the Henry Moore exhibition the process was similar, with all but one feeling and theme for certain. 

Anxiety is a key word that embodies so much of Moore’s work in the 1930s. We kept seeing it over and over again in our research.  During the 1920s Moore still lived in the shadow of the horrors he experienced in combat during World War I. In the 30s he witnessed the mounting tensions provoked by the rise of Nazi Germany, and new developments in psychoanalysis.  It really was a time of change, uncertainty, threat, and violence. As a result, when you look at Moore’s sculptures of that period – brutally distorted bodies, almost sci-fi-like – one can’t help but feel anxious.

For more information on The Shape of Anxiety: Henry Moore in the 1930s click here.

Why More Moore?

October 13th, 2010

The Shape Of Anxiety: Henry Moore in the 1930s

How the Exhibition Came to be

By Michael Parke-Taylor

Ideas for Sculpture in a Setting, 1938

Some years ago I was thinking about a Henry Moore show for the AGO that would examine his sculpture from the early part of his career during the 20s and 30s– the work that established his reputation as the world’s most famous sculptor.  Visitors to the AGO’s permanent collection often experience his Post-World War II sculptures.  I thought maybe it was time to show where Moore came from.

In my research, I found out that Tate Britain was also planning to do something similar on Moore.  So I flew to London.  That is how Tate curator Chris Stephens and I came to collaborate on the selection of works for this exhibition. 

My goal was to show a young Henry Moore who created edgy and even weird-looking sculpture, influenced by surrealist and abstraction in the 1930s.

I hope that looking at these early works will give greater meaning to the large-scale works that came later, and that we display on a permanent basis.

For more on information The Shape of Anxiety: Henry Moore in the 1930s, click here.