Spotlight: A Thought-Provoking London Exhibition Presents Henry Moore’s Sculptures and Drawings in a New Light

The exhibition at Osborne Samuel brings together works spanning 60 years of the artist's career, including some rarely scene gems.

Henry Moore, Working Model for Reclining Figure: Bone Skirt(1977–79). Courtesy of Osborne Samuel.

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What You Need to Know: Peter Osborne, one of the co-founders of London’s Osborne Samuel Gallery, has devoted much of this career to the artistic legacy of Henry Moore, who he met some 40 years ago during a visit to the Henry Moore Foundation. In the past 30 years, Osborne has organized five exhibitions at his galleries devoted to the artist. “Henry Moore: Space and Form” brings together a range of the artist’s drawings and sculptures from his early works from the 1920s through to works made just a few years before his death, in the 1980s. The show has a number of gems, including two rare wood carvings from the 1930s. Organized with gallery inventory along with a number of loans, the show was scheduled to open last year and was postponed. The current iteration debuted at Frieze London and is now on view in the gallery. 

Why We Like It: The exhibition traces the arc of Moore’s career—and with it his quietly evolving styles, like student works, including rarely seen prints from the 1920s, as well as his famed mother-and child-sculptures. A particular strength of this exhibition is its emphasis on Moore’s drawings, and the exhibition includes what are regarded as two of his most important wartime drawings, Draped Figures in a Shelter (1941)—which has been in the same collection since 1942—and Reclining Figures (1943), one of the artist’s larger studies, which hints at the direction his post-war sculptures would take. The gallery has also published a thoughtful new catalogue in conjunction with the exhibition which gives impressive detail about the works included in the show and also includes a few memorable anecdotes from Osborne—like having the sculpture Helmet Head brought to the dealer in a shopping bag in a New York hotel lobby before it had been authenticated.

What the Gallery Says: “Organizing an exhibition of this complexity would normally take years of planning, because of the pandemic we have had to compress the time available into a matter of months,” said Osborne. “A number of exceptional works by Moore have passed through the gallery—one of the great joys of any art dealer’s career is being able to discover and handle masterpieces by the artists we represent.”


Henry Moore
Helmet (1950)
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Henry Moore, Helmet (1950).

Henry Moore, Helmet (1950). Courtesy of Osborne Samuel.

Henry Moore
Two Piece Reclining Figure: Maquette No. 1 (1960)
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Henry Moore, Two Piece Reclining Figure: Maquette No. 1 (1960). Courtesy of Osborne Samuel.

Henry Moore, Two Piece Reclining Figure: Maquette No. 1 (1960). Courtesy of Osborne Samuel.


Henry Moore
Reclining Figures (1943)
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Henry Moore Reclining Figures (1943) Osborne Samuel Inquire for More Information

Henry Moore, Reclining Figures (1943). Courtesy of Osborne Samuel.

Henry Moore: Space & Form” is on view at Osborne Samuel, London, through November 17, 2021. 

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