Garden Diary - October 2008

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Friday, 17 October 2008
Henry Moore in America
Monumental Sculpture at the New York Botanical Garden

UPDATE: Moore in America exhibition has been extended through January 11, 2009.

It was 24 May 2008, on an overcast misty day that I first saw the Henry Moore sculptures, here at The New York Botanical Garden. How different from the strong sunlight of autumn, under a cloudless sky. Poor things, sculpture imprisoned unchanging in a building under static light and filtered air. This is the magnificence of sculpture as it should be seen - outdoors in a spacious landscape under the shifting light of different days as the seasons curtsy and dance around the sun. But you'll need to hurry. The exhibition closes November 2nd.

There is a marvellous display in the Orchid Rotunda of the Library building.
It is a collection of objects from Henry Moore's studio at Perry Green, near London
including tools such as these rasps and files, graters and chisels.

Found objects that inspired his creativity - bones and stones and shells.

There are also a few maquettes. From the French, a maquette is a small scale model of a sculpture, used to visualize and test shapes and ideas. For commissioned works, especially monumental public sculptures, a maquette might be used to show the client how the finished work will fit in the proposed site.

Once refined and revised as a maquette, monumental works such as Henry Moore's would be further developed as a working model of sculptures to be executed in more heroic size in bronze. This working model of Knife Edge is superb as is, reflected in the still black water of a pool in the Enid Haupt Conservatory, surrounded by lush greenery of palm trees.

Autumn leaves turning yellow and sunlight burnishing
this 1983 sculpture of Draped Reclining Mother and Baby.
How lovingly she cradles her child, sheltering it with her body.

Sunlight lying molten on the top, dark shadows at its core,
Locking Pieces is a 5,500 pound bronze created in 1963-64.
This is one of an edition of just three. It reveals many changes
as it stays centered while visitors orbit around its gravity.

Shadows shift and change as sunlight dances through the day.
Two Large Forms offers wonderful shadows sliding, caressing its surface.

My turn to curtsey. Your turn to bow. The monumental forms
(that word again. But monumental is what they are.) face off,
a necessary partnership of Knife Edge Two Pieces.


If you would care to see these sculptures slick with rain
on a soft and gray spring day, go here and scroll down to the 20 May entry.

If you want to see these sculptures in person, hurry, as the exhibition closes November 2nd.

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