an artists' view

an artists' view

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Ice Age Carvings: exhibition at Henry Moore Institute, Leeds

On Saturday 19th June we went to Leeds, to see the Ice-Age Carvings exhibition at the Henry Moore Institute, next door to Leeds Art Gallery.

It was very beautiful.
Tiny carvings/mark-making on reindeer antler - bone - mammoth ivory - 'modified pebbles' - limestone slab - they were perfectly formed carvings. Quite a few pieces had worked holes through the material, and I wondered if they had been deliberately chosen by the curator/s to be shown at the Henry Moore Institute, because of Henry Moore (and Barbara Hepworth's) use of holes in their work?

This would emphasise the connection - between ancient archaeological artefact, and twentieth century British sculpture.
Reveal Henry Moore's modernism, rooted in carvings made 13,000 years ago? Because Henry Moore famously did look at ancient carvings / sculpture, and use marks and ideas from such artefacts, in his work.

Modernism was a response to response to ancient art, and Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth were the two most famous British (Northern; Yorkshire) sculptors to expound 'modernism'.
Their concept of 'truth to materials', whereby the material being carved determined the shape of the sculpture that eventually emerged, can be seen clearly in these ice-age carvings.

We don't know what other purposes the carvings had - ritual or magical use: but there probably was some other meaning intended, which we can only speculate on.
Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth had meanings in their work. As modernists they wanted, post-World War Two, to make the world a better place.
Looking at these exquisite carvings, the world is certainly a better place for their presence.

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