23 May – Artworks can be reserved 30 May – Artworks go on sale
Early 20th Century British Sculpture was profoundly inspired by the objects and sculptures from distant lands that were collectively known as “Primitive Art” and amongst which was lumped discoveries from the Northern most regions of Canada. Roaming the British Museum’s collection of Oceanic, Native American, African and Mesopotamian objects, a young Henry Moore would discover and record the shapes and figures transforming them into some of his most powerful early sculptures and going to create his own lasting iconography. It was the truth to material which struck him the most, the “stoniness” of the carved forms perhaps reminiscent of the 11th Century carvings he knew as a boy from the churches of Yorkshire.
These are not the works themselves that inspired that generation of artists, but they are their ancestors. They also now inform us of a culture and civilisation that is now far better understood. Their forms still chime a chord to that early English stonework with their sense of portent and purpose. The truth to materials is there in the way that each work is carved according to what the material will allow.
Above all, they are staggeringly beautiful distillations of forms that speak not only of their subject – Bird/ Hunter/ Fish – but what it means to be that animal and also what it means to be that material too. Every good artist will know the capacity of what they have in their hand, its properties and elastic limits. Few are able to use that to convey the sense of what being that material actually means. As many of these objects relay, it really is possible to know the bird, to know the fish and to know the hunter all in one moment and one object.
I have admired this artform for some time and it is a pleasure to share this collection with you. My thanks are to all who have made it possible and to those who first introduced me.