Henry Moore: Configuration

A rare chance to see the work of Henry Moore at the Institute in Leeds. This will be only the fifth display in the Institute's 28-year history to focus on Henry Moore's work.

Configuration brings together a small, focused selection of sculpture, drawings and collages highlighting Henry Moore’s ceaseless investigation into form, material and volume. Throughout his lifetime, Moore collected objects such as bones, stones, shells and driftwood which he would turn over in his hands, build up, press into clay, cast, or photograph. This haptic practice saw Moore humanise these forms, and capture their relationship to the body both physical and imaginative.

“For me, everything in the world of form is understood through our own bodies. From our mother’s breast, from our bones, from bumping into things, we learn what is rough and what is smooth. To observe, to understand, to experience the vast variety of space, shape and form in the world, twenty lifetimes would not be enough.”

Henry Moore


The exhibition contains a selection of Henry Moore’s collaged works of the 1930s and 1970s. Moore’s Transformation drawings from the 1930s depict the metamorphosis of natural forms then cut up, turned around and re-imagined. He repeated this method in his photo-collages of the 1970s in which fragments of flints from the studio take on the forms of torsos or heads.

At the centre of Configuration are Moore’s multipart figures in which the sculpted body ceases to be a self-contained reality. Moore incorporates space as a tangible substance and creates a permeable boundary between the physical body and the space it displaces. By using organic forms to create figures in the studio, which when enlarged relate to the wider landscape, Moore oscillates between a tactile material experience and a poetic image of the body. There is a power in this liminal space between what is or was and what is depicted. The potency of this familiarity or strangeness, is further enhanced when his materials change and bone becomes bronze.

Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes: Henry Moore Sculpting the Body

Lecture by Dr Hannah Higham on Wednesday 10 November
Takes place online via Zoom, starting at 6pm

Henry Moore once described the human figure as ‘both the most exacting subject one can set oneself, and the subject one knows best.’ He was fascinated by the construction of the human body and the variety of balance, of size, of rhythm he found within.

This talk explores how Moore recognised human forms in the natural world, focusing on Moore’s process – a tactile one in which organic form is humanised in the artist’s hands - and the formal and emotional impact of his working in this way.

Find out more and book your free place

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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