Hauser & Wirth presents rarely seen tapestries by Henry Moore. This series of five large-scale tapestries are being shown for the first time in Asia, courtesy of the Henry Moore Family Collection.
Renowned for his sculptures and drawings, Henry Moore was one of the few modern artists to extend his work into the realm of tapestry. The brilliance of the drawings is confirmed in their transition into large tapestries, seven or eight times the size of the original. These lost nothing of their power in the process, retaining all the textural qualities of the drawing, from a smudgy chalk line to a decisive pen stroke.
The presentation has been made possible due to the artist’s daughter, Mary Moore, who introduced her father to West Dean Tapestry Studio in 1976, and later helped to choose and oversee intimate watercolour drawings interpreted into life-size tapestries. The detailed textile works are the result of a true creative collaboration with highly skilled weavers led by Eva-Louise Svensson, dying wool to achieve precise colours and blending threads of a great variety of tones to adapt the artist’s original drawing media.
The works were created for the artist’s family and have not been exhibited publicly in over a decade. They were initially unveiled at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, in 1980, followed by a tour of New Zealand, America and Canada over the next five years. The theme of mother-and-child predominates many of the tapestries, following the birth of Moore’s first grandchild and continuing a larger line of enquiry into interior and exterior form which inspired the artist’s most celebrated sculptures. The sustained flow of commissions by Moore and his daughter of West Dean Tapestry Studio was a spectacular act of patronage, resulting in 23 tapestries made between 1976-86, supporting the immense craftmanship involved in the traditional weaving process.
West Dean Tapestry Studio is one of the only professional tapestry studios in the UK, originating from a vision of Edward James to support traditional arts and craft skills, and carry on the 5,000 year old tradition of woven tapestries. The studio opened as a commercial workshop in 1976 with a commission from Mary Moore to produce a tapestry from a drawing by her father, Henry Moore.
The Tapestry Studio has been working with contemporary artists and designers to translate their images into woven tapestry since 1976. Since weaving 23 tapestries for The Henry Moore Foundation, 1976 - 1987, the Studio has worked with artists John Piper, Howard Hodgkin, Eileen Agar, Matty Grunberg, Philip Sutton, Bill Jacklin and Adrian Berg. Exhibited throughout the world, tapestries by the Studio are also on permanent view at the Henry Moore Foundation, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Surrey History Centre, Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead and many other locations.
The human figure, enigmatically isolated or in relationship with others, is both the stimulus and the crux of all Henry Moore’s works. For him, creating his sculptures was not so much an abstract exercize in looking at the human figure, but a personal investigation and violation of the artist’s own body: ‘When I carve into the chest,’ he commented, ‘I feel as if I were carving into my own.’ In 1943, Moore was commissioned to carve a Madonna and Child for the Church of St. Matthew, Northampton; this sculpture was the first in an important series of family-group sculptures. Moore's large-sized abstract sculptures can be encountered in numerous international public places (like Reclining Figure, 1956–58, UNESCO, Paris). Overlooked sometimes, are his fascinating drawings, often inspired by poetry and mythology. For his works on paper, Moore received important stimuli from so-called primitive art from Africa, the South Seas and Egypt, but at the same time from contemporaries such as Picasso and Giacometti. Hovering between abstraction and figuration, Moore developed his own unique language of form.
Exhibited throughout the world, tapestries by the West Dean Tapestry Studio, UK are also on permanent view at the Henry Moore Foundation, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Surrey History Centre, Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead and many other locations.
‘Henry Moore. Tapestries’ is on view now through 27 November 2021 at Hauser & Wirth Hong Kong.