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City Sculpture Projects 1972

24 Nov 2016 – 19 Feb 2017

Release date: Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Sculpture was talk of the town in Britain in the summer of 1972. It was being interrogated, debated, written about and photographed – and regularly appeared in regional and national newspapers, often with damning criticism and complaint. This was down to the City Sculpture Project, a hugely ambitious public sculpture scheme that supported the commissioning of large-scale works.

For a period of six months, between March and November 1972, sculptures were installed in eight cities in England and Wales. From Nicholas Monro’s over five-metre tall statue of King Kong in Birmingham, to Liliane Lijn’s revolving cone in Plymouth and William Turnbull’s six-part stainless steel sculpture ‘Angle’ in Liverpool, these works all reimagined sculpture’s relation to the city and the urban viewer.

This autumn the Henry Moore Institute, a centre for the study of sculpture, returns to this ambitious and fascinating sculpture project in the exhibition City Sculpture Projects 1972. Presenting sculptures and maquettes, some being remade by the artists especially for the exhibition, alongside photographs and archival material, much of the selected material has not been seen in public for over forty years. At the heart of City Sculpture Projects 1972 is the only explicitly figurative sculpture in the project: Nicholas Monro’s extraordinary ‘King Kong’. This sculpture stands five-metres tall outside the Henry Moore Institute, looking over the city's busiest thoroughfare. This will be the first time this sculpture has been lent to an exhibition since its 1972 showing and in the galleries, Monro’s maquette for the work is also on display.

This 1972 project marked an ambitious moment in the history of public sculpture in Britain. Large-scale works by living sculptors at the forefront of contemporaneous debates were placed in busy urban centres. The ambition was to showcase new sculpture that was disconnected from monuments and memorials. Importantly, it set out to stage dialogues between abstract sculpture and people living and working in urban environments outside London. City Sculpture Project boldly unsettled established viewing habits and expectations generating debate about contemporary sculpture’s relation to place. At the end of the six-month exhibition period each city had the option of buying the sculptures and having them on permanent display. None did and all the sculptures were relocated elsewhere – some were sold, and others destroyed.

City Sculpture Projects 1972 considers the ways in which this initiative took sculpture beyond the genre of the ‘open air’ urban park display, that had been popularised through exhibitions staged in the post-war decades in London’s Battersea and Holland Parks, and proposed a new model of art in the urban realm. This was a project that placed contemporary sculpture at street level, making it a part of the bustle of ordinary city life across Britain.


Notes to editors:


1.         The Henry Moore Institute is dedicated to celebrating sculpture.We welcome everyone to experience, study and enjoy sculpture. Open seven days a week we are free to all. We are an international research centre located in the vibrant city of Leeds, where Henry Moore began histraining as a sculptor. In our iconic building we host a year-round changing programme of historical, modern and contemporary exhibitions presenting sculpture from across the world.

Each year we host over a hundred powerful discussions, bringing the brightest thinkers together to share ideas. The Institute is a hub for sculpture, connecting a global network of artists and scholars. As a part of the Henry Moore Foundation, an independent arts charity, it is our mission to bring people together to think about why sculpture matters.


2.         The selected artists in City Sculpture Project were:

Robert Carruthers (1925–2009)
Garth Evans (b. 1934)
Barry Flanagan (1941–2009)
Nigel Hall (b. 1943)
L. Brower Hatcher (b. 1942)
Peter Hide (b. 1944)
Luise Kimme (1939–2013)
Bryan Kneale (b. 1930)
Liliane Lijn (b. 1939)
Kenneth Martin (1905–84)
Nicholas Monro (b. 1936)
John Panting (1940–74)
William Pye (b. 1938)
Bernard Schottlander (1924–99)
Tim Scott (b. 1937)
William Tucker (b. 1935)
William Turnbull (1922–2012)


3.         Sculptures by:

Luise Kimme was installed in Newcastle
William Tucker was made for Newcastle (but not installed there)
William Turnbull in Liverpool
Kenneth Martin and Bernard Schottlander in Sheffield
Nicholas Monro and Robert Carruthers in Birmingham
Barry Flanagan and Brower Hatcher in Cambridge
Peter Hide and Bryan Kneale in Southampton
William Pye and Garth Evans in Cardiff
John Panting and Liliane Lijn in Plymouth


4.         In 1972 the project was funded by the Peter Stuyvesant Foundation, coordinated by Jeremy Rees of the Arnolfini Gallery in Bristol and Anthony Stokes, with the artists and works selected from proposals by the sculptor Phillip King (St Martins) and Stewart Mason (Director of the Leicestershire Education Department and Chairman of the National Council for Diplomas in Art and Design).


5.         City Sculpture Projects 1972 is curated by Dr Jon Wood, Research Curator at the Henry Moore Institute.


6.         City Sculpture Projects 1972 is accompanied by a series of talks and events led by sculpture scholars, sculptors and organisers involved in the 1972 project.


7.         An issue of the Henry Moore Institute's journal, Essays on Sculpture, is dedicated to City Sculpture Projects 1972, published inOctober 2016


8.         Until 3 January Eleanor Antin: ‘CARVING: A Traditional Sculpture’ accompanies City Sculpture Projects 1972, focusing on a landmark 1972 sculpture made by American artist Eleanor Antin (b. 1935).


9.         From 25 January City Sculpture Projects 1972 shows alongside the exhibition Roy Ascott: Form Has Behaviour in Gallery 4, a focused study of the British artist Roy Ascott's (b. 1934) ground-breaking interactive sculptures of the 1960s.

Venue details

Venue address

Henry Moore Institute
The Headrow
United Kingdom
T: 0113 246 7467

Opening times

Galleries: Tuesday to Sunday, 10am - 5pm

Research Library: Monday to Saturday, 10am - 5pm; Sunday, 1 - 5pm
Archive of Sculptors' Papers: Tuesday to Friday, by prior appointment

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