August 8, 2010

Art Review: Moore exhibit reveals a great artist's visual thought process


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“Henry Moore: The Drawings” at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art in Brunswick

Images courtesy Henry Moore Family Collection and Hauser & Wirth, reproduced by permission of the Henry Moore Foundation

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“Helmet Heads,” 1949, pencil, chalk, charcoal, wax crayon, watercolor, ink and gouache

Additional Photos Below


"HENRY MOORE -- THE DRAWINGS: Works on Paper From the Henry Moore Family Collection" (organized by Hauser & Wirth New York, London, Zurich, in collaboration with the Moore Family)

WHERE: Bowdoin College Museum of Art, 9400 College Station, Brunswick

WHEN: Through Oct. 3

HOURS: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday; until 8:30 p.m. Thursday;1 to 5 p.m. Sunday

COST: Free

PUBLIC RECEPTION: 5:30 p.m. Friday

INFO: 725-3275;

"Seated Woman" (1948) might not be the strongest drawing in the show, but it reveals a great deal about Moore's sculpture, and is extremely interesting on its own. A woman wearing a toga-like tunic sits on a Roman bench. The bench is on a wooden floor and placed against a bare wall. The monochromatic woman appears gigantic. Her curved volumes are marked as though by white and yellow jigsaw cuts. They make her a sculpture even though she is seated in an architectural space. Even her gestures are those of a sculpture rather than a person.

The effect is astonishing but clear: Moore made sculptural objects for us to encounter. She has no life but that which we project into her.

Moore's work is ultimately in the service of the viewer's visual (and bodily) experience. It only functions through what we see. It only matters when encountered by the audience. It is only art when experienced as culture by a viewer. His sculpture might seem heroic or even, at times, grandiose, but his drawings reveal a deeply respectful human sensitivity.

I already thought Moore was one of the greats, but Bowdoin's show makes me like him even more. 

Freelance writer Daniel Kany is an art historian who lives in Cumberland. He can be contacted at:


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Additional Photos

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“Seated Woman” 1948, pencil, wax crayon, ink and wash


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