Friday, September 29, 2017

MMFA 2017: Henry Moore

Henry Moore
Three Piece Reclining Figure N1


September 27, 2017

Henry Moore’s Three Piece Reclining Figure No (1961-1962), the artist's key work, has a new home in the MMFA’s Sculpture Garden. The CIBC gift-donation highlights both institutions’ commitment to preserving Montreal’s public art.

Purchased from the artist by CIBC in 1962, Three Piece Reclining Figure No 1 was the first large-scale outdoor sculpture by Henry Moore to be installed anywhere in Canada. It exemplifies the British artist’s well-known talent for blending human and natural forms. 

Originally installed near Dominion Square in the forecourt of the Montreal CIBC Tower, the artwork is now on permanent display in the Museum’s newly expanded Sculpture Garden. Presently it is located in front of the Liliane and David M. Stewart Pavilion, by the entrance door at 3410 Du Musée Avenue. But it considered it might get relocated in the future to a different location, even possibly to be displayed on Sherbrooke Street.

This large-scale bronze sculpture is a major contribution to the MMFA’s holding of the artist’s works. It is a welcomed addition to the major collection of 40 works by Moore held by the Museum, including six smaller bronze sculptures of reclining figures

The CIBC donated this sculpture to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in recognition of the CIBC’s 150th birthday and the Montreal’s 375th birthday, to be enjoyed by everybody.

Henry Moore’s Semi-abstract Art
Figures and landscapes animate Three Piece Reclining Figure No 1 (1961-1962). The human form is divided into three. The leftmost piece rises vertically to a wedge shape that looks like a head. Two large concave depressions on either side of the “spine,” boulder-like forms in the middle section, call to mind the lower torso and hips. The sculpture’s smallest piece is composed of two parallel rounded shapes that may be interpreted alternately as the peaks of rolling hills or bent kneecaps.

This acquisition is one of only two three-piece-reclining-figure sculptures Moore created between 1961 and 1963. From an edition of seven, with casts in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Tate Gallery, London, this bronze sculpture stands out as a particularly compelling example of Moore’s self-professed obsession with semi-abstract reclining figures, the subject to which he would most consistently return throughout his career.

Timeline of the Sculpture’s History
1961-62: Henry Moore’s Three Piece Reclining Figure No 1 was created at the request of CIBC. The financial institution sought the advice of Canadian artist and art consultant Cleeve Horne on the purchase of a sculptural piece to put in the outdoor plaza in front of the new office tower at 1155 Dorchester Blvd (now René-Lévesque Blvd West).

October 30, 1962: It was unveiled by Mayor Jean Drapeau. Unfortunately, during the official unveiling ceremony, it snowed so much that photographers could not get any good pictures before the piece became covered in snow.

Moore’s work was hailed as a masterpiece. Dr. Evan Turner, then the Director of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts said, “Not in one hundred years has Montreal seen such a distinguished new work of public sculpture. [CIBC’s] new Moore is, easily, the most important single work of contemporary public sculpture on exhibit anywhere in Canada.”

January 19, 1963: Dorothy Pfeiffer of The Gazette stated, “I consider the sculpture a marvel of invention, dignity and artistic integrity. I think of it as a contemporary masterpiece… I believe it to be a magnificent art asset not only to the Province of Quebec, but to the whole of Canada.”

Early 1990s: Following renovations to the building, the sculpture was moved indoors, to the building’s atrium.

2017: CIBC celebrates its 150th birthday and Montreal its 375th – thus providing an ideal opportunity to offer the work a new home at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Photo above:

Natalie Bondil (right), Director General and Chief Curator of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Mary-Dailey Desmarais, Curator of International Modern Art, MMFA
Sylvain Vinet, Senior Vice President and Region Head for Eastern Canada, CIBC

Click on images to enlarge them

For more information about the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts exhibitions and activities, visit the museum's website.

All photos @ Nadia Slejskova

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