This Living Hand

Henry Moore Studios & Gardens, Perry Green
19 May – 31 October 2021

41 Lh 707 Hands

After a year in lockdown, a new exhibition of Henry Moore's work, curated by de Waal for the Henry Moore Studios & Gardens, opened to the public. Located at the artist's former home in Hertfordshire, This Living Hand explores the role of touch and the iconography of the hand in Moore’s art.

The first exhibition of its kind, visitors are invited to touch a collection of Moore's work in bronze and stone, as well as a number of original carved benches, created by de Waal, from Hornton stone – one of Moore's favourite materials. Alongside these sculptural works, a room of drawings and prints chart Moore’s interest in the hand as a subject, from The Three Fates (1948) to the numerous studies of his own and other subjects’ hands, including those he made in 1978 of the Nobel Prize winner, Dorothy Hodgkin, who wanted her hands to be used as her portrait. Upstairs, de Waal has curated a wunderkammer of objects that Moore kept close by him at home, 'objects of sustenance and renewal'.

Moore believed that ‘tactile experience is very important as an aesthetic dimension in sculpture’. Throughout his career he repeatedly emphasised the importance of experiencing sculpture haptically, and often returned to the hand as a subject in his sculpture and drawings, studying its expressive power and symbolic values as Auguste Rodin and Michelangelo, two of his favourite artists, had done before him.

For de Waal, in This Living Hand, "we see a life of reflection on how hands become sculpture. We are returned to what knowledge our own hands hold.”

Image: Moore holding the plaster maquette for Reclining Figure: Hand 1976, (LH 707). Photo: Henry Moore Archive. Reproduced by permission of The Henry Moore Foundation