Henry Moore and Anthony Caro’s sketches of genius

Henry Moore and Anthony Caro were two sculptors who explored their practice through drawing. Theirs and others’ work are on show at King’s Place

Three things came as a surprise when I visited the exhibition Sculptors’ Drawings currently at Kings Place in King’s Cross. One was the scale of the exhibition – it’s huge. There are over 200 works in this collaboration between Kings Place Gallery, a space on an upper floor, and Pangolin London, the ground-floor gallery which usually shows work by sculptors who cast at the Pangolin foundry. Virtually every wall of the public space on the three floors in between is displaying exhibits.

The second surprise was the scope of the exhibition, which extends way beyond the Pangolin stable to include past masters, the earliest being the Belgian Constantin Meunier, born in 1831, and perhaps the most renowned Picasso. Works by contemporary sculptors with local connections include Highgate’s Charlotte Mayer and Hampstead’s Antony Caro. Now known for abstraction, his drawing of a female nude, made in 1985, is a reminder of his powerful earlier figurative sculptures.

Amongst those who established reputations in the mid 20th century are three artists who lived in Belsize Park in the 30s, Ben Nicholson, Naum Gabo and Henry Moore , who made Drawing for Metal Sculpture when living in Parkhill Road.

There is a revealing quote from Moore in the catalogue: “Sometimes I may scribble doodles in a notebook, and within my mind they may become a reclining figure…then perhaps at a certain stage the idea crystallises….drawing is a means of finding your way about things and of experiencing more quickly than sculpture allows.” This corroborates points made in an introduction by Rungwe Kingdon, co-founder of the Pangolin Editions foundry, who says that sculptors draw to dissect or scrutinise an artefact or natural form and to record a visual idea, freshly albeit sometimes crudely.

And this leads to the third surprise: the diversity in the use sculptors make or have made of drawing. Experimenting with ideas for three-dimensional objects and planning these out is what might be expected but drawing for its own sake is, Kingdon says, a frequent pursuit of sculptors, as is drawing their own recently finished work, which was a reflective exercise for Lynn Chadwick. He also cites sculptors’ ingenuity with novel materials – such as cigarettes – and their ability to transform found objects with drawn lines, a practice which dates from Palaeolithic times. What Kingdon doesn’t say is that for a sculptor the drawing itself can also be thought of as an object.

Until October 12 at 90 York Way N1. Monday to Saturday 10am to 6pm. On Monday at 6.30pm there’s a panel discussion: Talking Art. �6.50, student concessions. www.kingsplace.co.uk or 020 7520 1490