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Henry Moore: hands as expressive as faces

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The washbasin

For the exhibition, in addition to three stone benches from the same quarry that Moore used, on which to sit to observe the statues, de Waal carved a stone sink outside the hall. Inspired by Japanese tradition, the washbasin transforms the now necessary gesture of washing hands before entering a pleasant ritual. It is a moment of pause and reflection before diving into art, with the permission that now seems extraordinary to touch the sculptures as Moore would have liked.

The idea of ​​inviting de Waal to curate an exhibition of Moore’s works came from Sebastiano Barassi, head of collections & exhibitions at the Henry Moore Foundation, an Italian art historian who has been living in England for many years. stories through objects and materials like de Waal, both as an artist and as a writer -, explains Barassi -. For us as a Foundation it is important to show how much Moore’s work is still relevant to today’s artists and how much his ideas and artistic principles are still valid ”.

The exhibition is a dialogue between artists across generations and centuries. Not only between Moore and de Waal, but also for example between Moore and Giovanni Bellini. When the Pinacoteca di Brera asked the English sculptor to create something inspired by the collection, Moore had chosen his Pietà from 1460. The drawing, on display, focuses on the lived but strong and lively hand of the Madonna that holds the battered hand without life of his son. The hands know how to identify but also to soothe pain. Moore knew this, who as a child when he came home from school massaged the back of his mother, suffering from devastating osteoarthritis. It is from that moment, said the artist, that the interest in the human figure and the desire to explore the creative and even thaumaturgical power of the hands sparked.In the large bronze statue The King and the Queen, on display, the figure seen from the front is majestic, with the hands placed and facing upwards, but seen from behind the back it is concave and fragile. De Waal explains: “Touching the Queen’s spine, tracing each vertebra with her fingers, it is moving to think of the memories of that child who with his little hands tried to soothe the pain in his mother’s bones”.

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This Living Hand: Edmund de Waal presents Henry Moore, Henry Moore Studios & Gardens, Hertfordshire, fino al 31 ottobre 2021.

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