Thursday 11 March 2010

Henry Moore-the Death of Imagination

I don’t know much about art but I know what I like, so the cliché goes. My version goes like this: I know quite a lot about art and I know what I hate. And what I have particular hatred for is the fraudulent, the talentless and the bogus. I hate those who are accepted as good and lasting simply because the art establishment says they will be good and lasting. It is the classic tale of the emperor’s new clothes. Only those with no taste could fail to see the merit in, say, Damien Hirst; only those with no taste could fail to see the merit in the sculptures of Henry Moore. I loathe the sculptures of Henry Moore, those ghastly blobs that inhabit city centres across the world. There; the child has spoken!

I make this confession against the background of a major exhibition of Moore’s work in the Tate, running until the beginning of August. I went, I saw, I left. Not that I expected to be convinced that the time had come to look again at an artist whose work is rather falling out of fashion. No, I suppose it was just to confirm a prejudice, not against contemporary sculpture, just against Henry Moore. There they are all lined up, those graceless shapes, not ugly, just pointless, a confirmation of how little talent the man truly had.

Please do not assume this arises from an animus against forms of art which do not adhere to traditional classical forms. No, there is a lot that I admire in artists who break conventional boundaries. I admire the work of Barbara Hepworth and I adore the Futurists, having a particular love of Umberto Boccioni’s Unique Forms of Continuity in Space.

Then there is Moore; shapes struggling for life and never quite getting there; lumpy and leaden and almost completely devoid of imagination, of truly creative intellect. There is no animation, there is no focus; there is just the same thing, time after time. No matter the subject it gets the same treatment to the point it becomes meaningful to say that if you have seen one sculpture by Moore you have seen them all; reclining figure, king and queen, mother and child, no matter; you’ve seen them all. It’s a bit like a pianist who was never able to progress much beyond chopsticks.

There is nothing in Moore that challenges, nothing that demands a second look. The curators describe his work as “abject, erotic, violated and visceral”, which seems to me to be just a succession of rather meaningless words. One review I read asked how they could possibly tell. My comment is simpler; if they think this stuff is ‘erotic’ they really need to get out more. But Moore became the fashion of the age, a comment less about art and more about the age, more about the death of imagination.


  1. Futurists :@.

    I know nothing of art, and I agree, horrible.

    Artists obviously tend to take the view that if you're not an artist and don't 'get it', then you can't have an opinion. But a lot of art - modern art especially - just isn't aesthetically pleasing to us Philistines. Some Canadian wankjob wanted to build a lopsided building on the Brighton seafront which thankfully got everyone to pull together and tell him to fuck off - he obviously couldn't see why we'd be so knavish and preceded to slag off the people of Brighton as 'not worthy'. Nothing to do with the fact we didn't want a piece of shit ruining the sea front of course. Fair enough if the council wanted to waste money on a blob of concrete which looks like a deformed clit, but when scaled to the size of something you can't help but notice is when the public tend to get their pitchforks out.

    abject, erotic, violated and visceral

    That is slang for "euphism for a cunt".

    I love the gherkin shaped building for the fact that it is phallus shaped and speaks volumes for how the architect imagined the space it's occupants would inhabit. A truely horrible piece of shite. These people should really be shot for being so poor at being subservient, if subservience comes across as text book, you've failed. Building a big dick in the middle of London? Might as well stick to drawing cocks on the side of toilet walls... cunts! :@

    Art students, there's the fucking hole. Please step in, and fill it.

  2. If I was sober I would have used a lot less colourful language.

  3. Never mind - colour is good. :-))

  4. If you haven't heard this band before give them a listen:

    Mumford & Sons:
    Winter Winds
    Little Man Lion
    White Blank Page

    They're an indie band, but they use 'folky' instruments - so indie folk pretty much. The banjo gives it a bluegrass sound. It gives them an interesting dynamic. They've at times been accused of sounding 'Irish', which has oddly seen them criticised in the British press, yet they're pretty popular in the ROI. I think if an English folk group tried to rip off traditional Irish music they wouldn't be popular in Ireland - so just think it's the British press being ignorant.

  5. Roll Away Your Stone

    They do sound really English! But just that little something else. Fantastically macabre.