Henry Moore packs a punch with sculptures brought indoors

Ambitious exhibition gives new view of Belsize Park sculptor’s work

�“Sculpture is an art of the open-air. Daylight, sunlight, is necessary to it, and for me its best setting and complement is nature. I would rather have a piece of sculpture put in a landscape than in, or on, the most beautiful building I know.” This is a widely used quote from an interview that Henry Moore gave to critic David Sylvester in the early 1950s. So it came as a shock to learn that, in collaboration with the Henry Moore Foundation, the Gagosian Gallery in King’s Cross is showing a number of late large-scale Moore sculptures indoors – and to discover that the pieces look so impressive in these spaces that I wondered whether the sculptor was right.

Removing certain aspects of outdoor viewing – the effects of changing light, seasons and terrain – which Moore so valued – and showing the bronzes in bare, spacious, white galleries heightens the impact of their organic forms. It also makes their already mammoth proportions seem even greater.

This would have pleased Moore who said: “Everything I do, I intend to make on a large scale... Size itself has its own impact, and physically we can relate ourselves more strongly to a big sculpture than to a small one.” The biggest gallery is dominated by Two Large Forms with its smoothly sensual curves, one of the works usually to be seen at the Foundation in Perry Green, Hertfordshire. Its surface is weather-beaten with a green patina – in contrast to the warm sheen resembling polished wood of Three Piece Sculpture: Vertebrae. Of particular interest in this ambitious exhibition is the shelf of maquettes giving insights into Moore’s creative process.

You can see more of these and of found objects that inspired Moore – such as bones and driftwood – and view his large sculptures in landscape, including the wonderful Sheep Piece, which glistens from sheep rubbing against it – by visiting the Foundation. It is based next door to the farmhouse Hoglands, to which Moore moved with his wife Irina after their home in the Mall Studios, Belsize Park, was bombed in 1940. The house has been skilfully restored and evokes a sense of what it must have been like at much the same period as Moore was making the sculptures now at the Gagosian.

0Late Large Forms is at 6-24 Britannia Street, King’s Cross, until August 18. Open Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 6pm. The Henry Moore Foundation, near Much Hadham, has 30 monumental works in 70 acres of grounds plus galleries and studios. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 11am to 5pm, and bank holidays. �12.50 (concs �10). For a timed slot to view Hoglands or for more details, call 01279 843333.