Exposition Henry Moore, Steven Vail Fine Arts
May 11 - July 20, 2012
May 14, 2012
Des Moines is fortunate: There is nothing unusual about an art exhibition opening on a Friday night in the East Village. Every week, talented artists present their latest work in the many galleries scattered across our fair city. However, when a one of those Friday night openings features the work of an iconic, world-renowned sculptor, it is exceptional indeed. Last Friday’s opening reception for “Exposition Henry Moore” at Steven Vail Fine Arts was that type of pleasant surprise.
Henry Moore (British 1898-1986) is considered one of the greatest sculptors of the 20th century, and certainly is one of the most celebrated. His abstract figures of the human form are easily recognizable for their fluid interaction between mass and space, and his best-known motifs, the reclining figure and the mother with child, have a rolling grace reminiscent of the hilly geography of Moore’s native Yorkshire. Moore’s work is featured in some of the finest institutional collections worldwide, including the Art Institute of Chicago, Guggenheim Museum of New York, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden of Washington, D.C., Tate Gallery of London, and, yes, the Des Moines Art Center.
“Exposition Henry Moore” at Steven Vail Fine Arts features a selection of Moore’s print work - lithographs, etchings, and mixed media pieces. Moore’s work with print began in 1931 and continued for more than fifty years, evolving from a step in the planning of a sculpted work to a form of artistic expression in its own right.
Art Beacon had an opportunity to interview Steven Vail and Breianna Cochran, curator of the exposition, regarding the show.
* What can people expect to see at “Exposition Henry Moore”?
Cochran: Henry Moore has a large and varied oeuvre and we have narrowed the exhibition down to his two most prominent subjects, the mother and child and the reclining female form. The included works demonstrate Moore’s graphic obsession with exploring diverse variations of backgrounds, hues and processes in his print work. The work shows us Moore’s non-sequential progression from turning recognizably human figures into near complete biomorphic abstractions. Many of Moore’s prints appear identical in subject matter and compositions, challenging the viewer to find the variances in his work.
*Moore’s work is the type which one often expects to see in large museums or on a grand scale in public spaces. How did Steven Vail Fine Arts come to feature such an exhibit?
Vail: The works in the exhibition were part of the collection of the Estate of Henry Moore. Past exhibitions of ours have included Sol LeWitt and Chuck Close. As a rule, our collections and program of exhibitions feature artists who have an established institutional authority. We also have a particular interest in representing works by artists whose work is included in the Des Moines Art Center collections.
* Moore passed away 26 years ago. Where have the pieces in the exposition been in the intervening years, and how did they make their way to the public at this point in time?
Vail: The exhibition has been a long time in planning and was made possible by our friends and colleagues at Osborne-Samuel, Ltd in London who generally represents the Estate of Henry Moore. This is the first time a solo Henry Moore print exhibition has been shown in the United States at a non-institutional venue.
* In your opinion, how do you think this exposition adds to or fits with the Des Moines art scene at this point in time?
Vail: We feel this exhibition, and our exhibition program in general, lends balance to art scenes in Des Moines and the Midwest. There are several wonderful galleries in Des Moines which feature the works of some very talented Iowa and regional artists, and each gallery does a first rate job in their own niche. We are different in that we make available to the Midwest works by established artists, American, European, and Latin American who have most importantly constituted the defining basis of major twentieth century avant-garde movements and on those who have most impacted our current (21st century) understanding of artistic significance in the context of twentieth century visual culture.
Steven Vail Fine Arts is located in the Historic Teachout Building at 500 East Locust, Floor 2, Des Moines, IA 50309. “Exposition Henry Moore” runs through July 20, 2012 and is open to the public. Gallery hours are Tuesday-Friday 11 AM - 5 PM, Saturday 11 AM - 4 PM or by appointment. Phone: 515-309-2763. Web: www.stevenvailfinearts.com.