Mary Moore on Damien, the narrative, life with Henry and digital art

Came across this interesting article in the Guardian yesterday. Mary Moore, daughter of the sculptor Henry Moore gives us her views on a few issues notably on digital art (in bold). Below are selected extracts from the article.

Damien Hirst set back art by 100 years, says Henry Moore’s daughter | Art and design | The Guardian. Damien Hirst has set back art by 100 years, according to the daughter of Henry Moore, the man who arguably changed British sculpture more than any other artist.

Mary Moore said her father, who died in 1986, had challenged the narrative and formally-presented artwork of the Victorian era. “What he did was come along and take it out of the frame in a very weird way,” she told the Guardian. “I think Damien Hirst put it back in the bloody frame and art is all now in the frame and what you forget is how radical it is that it’s not in the frame. “[Henry Moore’s art] is not narrative, it’s not contextual, it is about exploring the invented object in front of you.”  Moore was speaking before a major exhibition exploring her father’s relationship with land. More than 120 works will be on indoor and outdoor display at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, including a room curated by Moore offering a personal insight into how her father worked.

The issue with the work of Hirst and others was that it relied on title and the cube it was in, she said. It was much more about having to read the label to know what was going on.  Henry Moore’s work was more gut instinct, confronting an unusual sculpture which, she said, could be so many different things from different angles.  “Art has gone back into a frame, it has gone back to being a contextual, narrative thing which is actually where we were with the pre-Raphaelites,” she said. 

The show is particularly significant for two reasons. Henry Moore was born only 15 miles away in Castleford, in 1898, and played an important role in helping the park become what it is back in the late 1970s.

Mary Moore was treated like an adult from a young age and the games she played were about form and shape and judging distance. “I really enjoyed them. They were all really exercises in using your mind and sensing form and spatial distance.

“He wasn’t training me, he was playing a competitive game about things he was thinking about all of the time.”  Moore said she worried, in the digital age, that we were losing our skills to see things properly.  “We don’t look at things, it’s terrifying, it’s happening more and more and more. People see two-dimensionally on their phones and laptops and iPads; they don’t see shapes or understand form. “My father always used to say: ‘How would you draw my hand, this side is dark, this side is lit.’ He was constantly making you think about form.

Arguments Against Mary: Hang on a minute, Mary! Digital artists still need to know a thing or two about art. For example, colour theory, drawing ability, shading, toning, pressure on stylus and of course eye coordination, well, that’s if you’re not rich enough to own a cintique (like me). Also, didn’t artists learn from technology back in the 17th century? Camera obscura.

What’s your take on Mary’s views?

One Reply to “Mary Moore on Damien, the narrative, life with Henry and digital art”

  1. I think Moore is mistaken. Since visual perspective was introduced into imagery and now so embedded in our visual culture that we don’t notice it as a visual trick or tactic I can see where she is coming from. But all those realist two dimensional images rely on tone, shape, and line to evoke a sense of volume and perspective.

    But it’s true that we spend little time looking at single images…. but did we ever?


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