Sometimes Moore is More

When I was posting on sculpture yesterday, I remembered a medium-good movie "Object of Beauty" starring Andie McDowell, John Malkovich and a diminutive Henry Moore sculpture. The couple is in a bit of a financial pickle and "he" wants to sell "her" statue to get them out. Naturally, she balks. Ironically, the deaf maid steals the statue because "it speaks to her."

Henry Moore is considered by many to be one of the greatest sculptors of the 20th century. His farm, "Hoglands," was featured in Architectural Digest in March of 1980.

The house was falling apart when Moore and his wife, Irina, purchased it in the 1940's, but they dug in and made it their own.

While the living room furniture and palette are simple and neutral, the author reports that there were literally hundreds of objects. "Pebbles, papier mache eggs, Cycladic sculptures, African masks, pre-Columbian artifacts..a French carving of a Madonna and Child, gourds, flints and a Medieval marble relief."

Each piece had a personal attachment, evoked a memory, but also reflected Moore's fascination with shape and form.

These images are of the studio; Moore is mostly known for his large, outdoor sculpture. He felt that sculpture placed outdoors should be large in scale to stand up to its surroundings.

The smaller pieces are studies for the larger works. Moore initially used preliminary sketches, but could not capture the scale of the completed work, so he moved to executing the sculpture instead. Irina was a gardener and they enjoyed placing Moore's pieces in the pastures with the sheep. He says in the article that he didn't care for sculpture gardens. "They nullify the whole point of the sculpture."

Fortunately, he changed his mind. Our local museum, the Nelson-Akins acquired a large selection of Moore's sculptures several years ago through the generous support of the Hall family. Just to give the Midwest its due, the sculptures were purchased from a collector in Wichita. Kansas. Moore was able to see the site and placed some of the sculpture himself. The garden is a magical place; the pieces are not just plopped down, you discover them here. It's a wonderful spot to take children as the pieces are so big, huge, even to an adult, and you are moving, walking, running, talking. No shushing.

The old part of the Nelson is old. Marble, terrazzo, columns. We were fortunate to welcome the new Bloch Building last year. Controversial? Sure. We tend to be a bit conservative here and don't like folks messing with our landmarks. But one of my son's friends said, "You know, they couldn't match it. And if you can't match it, you need to do something really different." Agreed. The addition adds to the site inside and out. It's, well, sculptural.

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