Rodin, Moore and Selfe.

Posted on Nov 3, 2013 by


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Here we are at The Henry Moore Foundation to check out the Rodin / Moore exhibition. Moore, a huge fan of Rodin, is surely weeping for joy in Sculptor Heaven (I’ve written about Moore in Hertfordshire: A-Z).

What could be more pleasurable than strolling in the fresh air on a balmy, autumn day in beautiful surroundings with Rodin, Moore and Daphne for company. Bliss. That Daphne is so cool. Madonna’s conical bra, Fabulous Fashionistas, Abbey Road Studios in Macca’s video for Queenie Eye, all in a day’s work.

‘Would you like me to wear anything special?’ she asks Himself as if he’s David Bailey (no, not Bailey, doesn’t rate him) as if he’s Maurice Tabard (don’t ask). ‘Oh’ I say, sticking my oar in, ‘wear anything which looks good in black and white photos’ forgetting PhotoShop can make any photo black and white. Daphne shakes up in a retro white jumble sale sheepskin coat and black trews looking, as ever, a million dollars.

As for the sculptures. Jaw dropping (Daphne is no stranger to sculptors, she sat for Barbara Hepworth). Throughout their career, Moore and Rodin were subjected to criticism by those who had never and could never hold a chisel. We are now so used to seeing Moore’s and Rodin’s we forget that they were once ridiculed. Both became worldwide celebrities. By the end of his life Moore was the world’s most successful living artist at auction.

Rodin, like Moore, came from a working class family and like him, reached the heights on talent alone. His famous Thinker, by the way, started out as Dante. His works have movement. In contrast, Moore’s are static, restrained, ordered. Rodin’s Burghers of Calais, although wonderful, is a bit odd. Not only do the burghers not present a united front before their persecutor Edward III, they look as if they have never met.

The first thing to catch the eye was, sadly, not the masterpieces but ugly breeze block plinths. Could not the Foundation have raided the yard of a monumental sculptor for a bit of marble? Moore and Rodin are surely weeping in Sculptor Heaven.

Hoglands, Moore’s house, is not grand, but then, neither was he. The seventh of eight children, his father was a miner who made good. Living frugally as a child was a necessity, as an adult, a choice. He ploughed most of his considerable income into the Foundation to prevent the Tax Man clawing back 90%.

The House, Maquette Studio (very knowledgeable guide) Tapestry Room (ditto) and Exhibition Hall were welcome havens during a sudden heavy downpour. The guide in the Maquette Studio told us that Moore offered his valuable plaster casts to the nation, but the nation, being British, did not want them even though the casts are more valuable than Moore’s giant bronzes. Insulting. He gave them to Canada instead. Toronto is known all over the world for The Henry Moore Centre built to house his generous gift of 900 sculptures, plaster and bronze maquettes and the stones and bones that inspired them.

Philistines stole his Reclining Figure from the Foundation in 2005. It has never been found. The police think it was melted down and sold. The Visitor Map shows a sundial sculpture but the plinth is empty. Thieves sold the sundial to a scrapyard for £46. They returned four days later, removed Upright Motive Number 7, stole the base and sold it as scrap. Now, recently, low life have stolen Moore’s Standing Figure from Scotland.

When not being stolen for scrap, his works are often vandalised. His King and Queen were decapitated in Scotland and daubed with blue paint in Leeds. Recumbent Figure was decapitated in New York, Spindle was attacked with metal chains in Houston and Draped Seated Woman was tarred and feathered in Germany.

Rodin has not escaped either. The Thinker, vandalised in Buenos Aires, was spray-painted pink, given green hair and a shoulder tattoo, his Balzac was stolen from a museum in Israel and The Hand of God from a museum in Argentina.

Man’s inhumanity to man making countless thousands mourn (Robert Burns).

Posted in: Art, Article, Review