he first major exhibition of Barbara Hepworth’s work for nearly 50 years opens this month in London at Tate Britain. And a Henry Moore exhibition is to open at the Gagosian Gallery; almost as if these two titans of Modern British Art must continue to be linked as rivals and friends.
Sculpture. Abstract sculpture. Why might it matter?
They both forged an approach – one more influenced by human form, one more influenced by natural form – that was direct; a direct interaction with the material. They were both about carving, rather than modelling.
Chipping away, cutting back, sanding down, finding a way through by piercing wood or stone, Hepworth especially touched and felt her way through the work.
I am a messy and cluttered hoarder. I find the ability to take away and reduce almost a superpower. (Reduction is the essence of good curation and of good design, too. Coco Chanel said ‘Elegance is refusal’). But there’s another reason for looking to sculpture for inspiration in the workplace this week.
It’s June, it’s midsummer, and we can be outside. We can take our coffee outside.
And sculpture can be outside.
In fact when sculpture moves outside, extraordinary things happen.
I wondered around the Yorkshire Sculpture Park at the weekend. Here, over wild beautiful acres, sit Moores and Hepworths and other sculptures. Bounded by sky and earth, they can be touched and walked around and seen from far away and right up close.
The wide open setting encourages closeness (isn’t that strange?) as well as a new perspective. An abstract piece which seemed familiar from a picture becomes new in a wild and open setting.
Something on your mind?
Go outside. Touch wood or stone.
It will suddenly seem different. It will sort itself out.