The first permanent galleries in London dedicated to the work of Henry Moore opened at Tate Britain
on 14 May 2013. Two gallery spaces present around 30 works and focus on the story behind the Henry Moore collection at Tate and his large public commissions. The display includes film, photographs, maquettes, drawings and large-scale sculptures such as Recumbent Figure, 1938, the first to enter Tates collection in 1939.
The opening of the Henry Moore galleries coincides with the new chronological hang of Tate Britains collection displays. The Moore room sits alongside the new BP walk through British Art, and celebrates one of the most significant British artists of the 20th century. It is one of three displays offset by the chronological circuit that present a new focus on the legacy of three artists who have a special historic relationship with Tate Britain J.M.W. Turner, William Blake and Henry Moore.
The first room reveals the history of Moores relationship with Tate and how the collection of his work was formed. Moore built a close relationship with the Gallery: he served as a Trustee for two terms from 1941-1956, and two large-scale retrospective exhibitions of his work were held in 1951 and 1968. The most recent show in 2010 at Tate Britain re-affirmed Moores status as one of the leading artists of the twentieth century.
Henry Moores friends and supporters were pivotal in shaping Tates collection of Moores work. Moore also donated sets of prints to the gallery in 1976 and his most significant act of generosity was the presentation of 36 sculptures in 1978. Today the Tate collection owns over 600 works ranging in date from 1921 to 1984, and including drawings, prints, and sculptures in wood, stone and metal.
The second room looks at a selection of Moores large public commissions and gives a fascinating insight into the process he used to make them. In the 1950s and 1960s, Moore worked almost exclusively in plaster to be cast in bronze and around themes of the body, landscape and nature. He saw the countryside as the best setting for his sculptures and became known for his large-scale works that were made for locations as diverse as new housing estates in London, the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, and Dallas City Hall. The major works in this new display, including Reclining Figure 1951, and Draped Seated Figure 19578, are exhibited alongside drawings and maquettes, as well as film and photographs of the artist at work in his studio.