The Sculptures of Henry Moore and the History of Yorkshire Fashion
27 April 2017
Yorkshire art and fashion is the focus of two fascinating shows in Leeds this November, with sculptures and clothes jostling for space at the Henry Moore Institute and Lotherton Hall.
Early Works of Henry Moore
Henry Moore Institute (30th November 2017- 18th February 2018)
Celebrating 40 years of the Henry Moore Foundation, this exhibition takes place in the studios and grounds where he worked from 1940. It presents early sculptures and paintings – 1914 to 1930 – and displays pieces by Michelangelo and Picasso, who inspired the creative practices of Britain’s first great modern artist.
Early Work as a Student in Yorkshire
The roll of honour board for Castleford secondary school is Henry Moore’s oldest surviving commission. The artist carved it when he was 17, for the pupils who served in the Great War. His teacher, Alice Gostick, commissioned the piece, which shows the school’s role in Moore’s development as an artist and great skill already evident at a young age.
The most fascinating of these old studios present small-scale 1920s stone carvings that resemble prehistoric models. “Maternity” is a formidable presence: with the suckling infant folded into the woman’s torso, mother and child seem united together. Moore is expressive with his materials, alive with the knowledge that he could extract emotion by stripping away the outer stone.
The Influence of Michelangelo
Maternity is placed next to a cast of Michelangelo’s crouching figure, a piece Moore saw in the V&A, which through expressiveness and strength reveal the Italian artist’s method of chipping away at the stone to create a powerful form.
This technique influenced the concrete models on display, with their cuboid, unitary forms, also seen in landmark piece, the Reclining Figure of 1929, one of the earliest examples of Moore’s iconic style. The rough texture of the Brown Hornton stone flows over the bulbous, rhythmic volumes of the female figure to suggest great muscular power.
Picasso’s Fragmented Figures
The fragmentation of the body in Picasso’s Deux Baigneurs influenced the open and linear forms of Reclining Figure. Moore was aware of the oil painting since his time at Leeds School of Art. The disk-shaped hip area of Reclining Figure is similar to the exaggerated shapes in Picasso’s figures. Yet, instead of simply working directly from reproductions, Moore made them very much his own.
1930s: Sculptural Progression
The exhibition finishes in 1930, when the artist rose to international fame. Despite the display of impressive works by Michelangelo and Picasso, alongside the early Moores, one of the most fascinating exhibits is a sketch of a figure with a distorted form and an innate vitality that sums up everything the young Moore aspired to do with the sculptures on display.
Fashionable Yorkshire at Lotherton Hall
Lotherton Fashion Galleries (17th March until 31st December 2017)
Fashionable Yorkshire chronicles the history of fashion through the clothes of a selection of Yorkshire women. These include Margaret Layton, the wife of a wealthy landowner; 17th-century It girl Mary Holden Illingworth, daughter of a successful manufacturer; the Priestman sisters; and 1970s Biba dresses.
17th Century: Changes in Style
The exhibition provides historical context for British fashion through pieces from the 17th-century. This period saw the dawn of the ‘waistcoat’, with long, tight sleeves, narrow shoulder wings and a small curved collar. Mary Layton’s waistcoat is particularly significant because she is painted wearing it in her well-known portrait. Wealthy women like Layton determined the styles that were popular resulting in their significant influence on fashion.
Rococo influenced British fashion in the 18th century with the rise of elaborate embroidery, represented in the exhibition; the Victorian mantua became internationally popular, and three dresses worn by a member of the Priestman family are fine examples of British tailoring.
The Height of Couture Fashion
Mary Holden Illingworth’s dress represents the height of couture fashion in the early 1880s. The cut provides a moulded fit on the mannequin. It drapes at the hips and falls in inverted pleats from the back of the dress. The beautiful cut, combined with luxuriant material and intricate embroidery, created a flattering silhouette, popular at the time.
1970s Biba Designs by Barbara Hulanicki
The exhibition finishes with pieces designed by the great and good of 1970s British fashion. Biba dresses by Barbara Hulanicki played a major role in the industrialisation of fashion. Other items include miniskirts, bell-bottoms and even woollen Yorkshire flat caps by Rhian Kempadoo Millar.
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