Dark side of sculptor Henry Moore on show in London

Mon Feb 22, 2010 1:34pm EST
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By Peter Griffiths

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Sculptor Henry Moore is portrayed as a radical who explored a dark world of sex, war and death in a show that challenges his modern image as the creator of gentle figures that adorn windswept plazas around the world.

London's Tate Britain gallery has brought together more than 150 of the artist's sculptures and paintings in what has been billed as the biggest exhibition of his work in a generation.

From claustrophobic drawings of skeletal figures sheltering from air raids to primitive stone masks and vast, erotic wooden female figures, it traces Moore's work over more than 40 years.

Co-curator Chris Stephens said he hoped to show a darker, more complicated picture of Moore and reassert his position as one of the great sculptors of modern times after a period of critical ambivalence.

"Its critical edge, its darkness, its sexiness has been forgotten," Stephens told Reuters in an interview. "You can't fully appreciate his work without understanding the context of two world wars and the Holocaust and so on."

The exhibition attempts to show that there is more to the artist than his oversized abstract reclining figures and cozy family scenes that are dotted around sculpture parks and public squares from Dallas to Berlin.

Born in 1898, Moore was the son of a coal miner in northern England. The seventh of eight children, he grew up during the upheavals in Europe that led to two world wars, the nuclear arms race and the Cold War.

After joining the army in 1917, Moore was caught in a German mustard gas attack in the frontline trenches in France. He was one of only 52 survivors from his regiment of 400 men and spent two months in hospital.   Continued...