Henry Moore Institute – 1913: The Shape of Time – Preview Review

Henry Moore Institute - 1913: The Shape of Time Exhibition

Henry Moore Institute – 1913: The Shape of Time Exhibition – Photograph by Lee Gascoyne 2012

This evening I ventured out of my hole to go to the preview of the exhibition 1913: The Shape of Time at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds. When I go to exhibitions, for me there tends to be only two things to observe; first of course is the artwork, and second the people who are viewing the artwork. Previews tend to be as much about meeting and greeting (for some at least) as the art itself.

After accepting the readily offered glass of wine as I entered the bunched cluster of grey and black fabrics being animated by their inhabitants, I joined the activity in body and wine only. If I had not been there on my own, I would have no doubt spent more time adding to the overall hub of chatter in the reception area of the gallery.  I did in fact interact briefly when I was asked to move out-of-the-way so a polite lady could retrieve her glass of wine she had stashed nearby, of which I was successfully blocking. With glass almost drained, I abandoned the remnants in order to do what I set out to do, which was to see some art. In complete contrast to the reception area, the gallery etiquette of solemn study (interspersed with academic flourishes and contextualisations) was adopted. For me this is a comfort zone. Gone is the pressure to be conversing gregariously and in its place is the simple act of relaxed looking. The lone gallery goer takes on an air of mystery, which is their reward for a solo mingle.

The highlight of the exhibition for me was Marcel Duchamp’s 3 Standard Stoppages, along with a Picasso collage and a De Chirico painting, both of which were invigoratingly rough-looking in the flesh. There was nothing present that slapped you in the face, which is my preference and not to everyone’s taste. There was a distinct feeling of ‘deceased’ that was enhanced by the venue, and so any emotive interplay had to come from conjuring up the context of the past that the exhibition pieces are tied to. This is not always the case with themed exhibitions of past eras of greatness. On occasion time drops away as if not a moment has passed since the artist last touched the piece of art they were working on, which seems alive right in front of you. This exhibition however, for me, isn’t one of those occasions.

Click here to visit the Henry Moore Institute website for more information on the exhibition.

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