Myths & Poetry
January 21 - March 11, 2017
Hauser & Wirth Zürich presents an exhibition focused on Henry Moore’s early works on paper relating to myth and poetry. Including poetry magazine covers, illustrations for poems by Herbert Read and sketches of the Prometheus myth, the presentation explores the graphic side of Moore’s practice and provides an insight into his relationship with the literary world. In addition to etchings, lithographs and drawings, several sculptures are also on view including a large-scale work carved from Elmwood that has not been exhibited since the 1950s. Most of the works were created in the years surrounding the end of World War II; supporting archival material, such as the artist’s tools, photographs of his etching studio and correspondence with friends such as W. H. Auden and Herbert Read, offer intimate access to this period in Moore’s career. ‘Myths & Poetry’ has been organised in collaboration with the Henry Moore Foundation and is curated by the artist’s daughter, Mary Moore.
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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.