Moore Rodin, Henry Moore Foundation, Perry Green, Hertfordshire

Visual art review: Rodin comes acalling at Henry Moore's place ... it's the great bronze off!

5.00

 

Defy the traffic beside the Houses of Parliament and you can see, to one side, Henry Moore's Knife Edge Two Piece and to the other, Rodin's The Burghers of Calais. Or you could do, until what the French sculptor called "my novel" was trundled up the A10 to Perry Green in Hertfordshire, to Moore's home, studio and gardens. Here, for the first time, the great modernist's work is being shown alongside that of another artist. Other collaborations will follow, but Rodin is the obvious first guest – Moore treasured an early volume about him, bought his work, liked the things he liked.

If you want to come face to face with the French martyrs before the autumn, then, head for Moore Rodin. And face to face it is – the brave citizens who were designed to stand four-square on the ground, were, once installed at Westminster in 1913, so dwarfed by their Victorian Gothic backdrop, that Rodin sanctioned a plinth, so changing the vulnerable huddle of determined heroes to a lofty collection of municipal worthies. Planted at Perry Green at their intended level, between the shrubs and trees, they shrink rather than swell with proximity, a trick of scale that runs through a show in which the colossal is often delicate and the miniature impregnable.

The nude figure of Calais martyr Jean d'Aire, straining fists clenched to surrender the keys to his town, is a prototype for the Burghers. Each was modelled naked then "dressed" in plaster-soaked folds so that the immense strength of resolve is not a final flourish, but comes from within. Every dimple is cavernous, every sinew stretched.

Most of the consoling monoliths and groups of Moore are in their usual home, but now, through their scoops and curves we can glimpse their Rodin counterparts, as handpicked by curator Anita Feldman, largely from the Musée Rodin gallery and garden in Paris. While lambs gambol prettily in the iced meadow, the Yorkshireman's vast and tender figures settle benignly into the landscape – here, Three Piece Sculpture: Vertebrae (1969), with its dinosaur joints, there, elephantine Arch (1969).

Smaller works, in the gallery, show synergies of material and subject: mother-and-child embraces, women intimately observed, figures that appear to emerge fully formed from rock or recede into it. There are moments when the labels could be swapped without anyone suspecting.

Both sculptors delighted in tiny miracles of nature – intricate seashells, teasing stones. Both elevated special finds from the natural world on little plinths. Both toyed surreally with their own maquettes, planting them in antique vessels. Both modelled and drew unceasingly, Rodin stockpiling limbs and torsos, Moore fashioning figures in the image of the quirky flints and bleached bones he squirrelled into the studio that brims with found objects and the maquettes they inspired.

You long for them to have met. But Rodin died in 1917 when Moore, at 19, was in the trenches. Their meeting of minds is suggested in a combined collection of favourite possessions: Rodin's Ancient Egyptian ibis, Moore's Hittite ox; Rodin's Hellenistic female figure; Moore's 14th-century tomb angel; Rodin's skipping Aphrodite; Moore's early 20th-century dancer, work of one Auguste Rodin.

We run the risk of glancing nonchalantly at the work of much-loved artists such as these, favoured by public collections and spaces. The London borough of Tower Hamlets, in trying to flog off its superb Moore, Draped Seated Woman, has a bad solution for such bronze fatigue. Instead, this show refreshes tired eyes, and unveils the unfamiliar.

Tucked away in one case, only a few centimetres high, is Moore's coloured-concrete Torso (1926). As unexpectedly taut and tense as a Rodin and uncharacteristically futuristic, it was acquired by Perry Green last year, and has not been seen by the public since the Twenties. That alone – and everything else – makes the show unmissable.

 

The Henry Moore Foundation (01279 843333) to 27 Oct; Compton Verney, Warwickshire (01926 645500), 15 Feb - 31 Aug 2014

Arts and Entertainment
By Seuss! ‘What Pet Shall I Get?’ hits the bookshops this week
Books
Arts and Entertainment
The mushroom cloud over Hiroshima after Enola Gray and her crew dropped the bomb
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Elliott outside his stationery store that houses a Post Office
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Rebecca Ferguson, Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible Rogue Nation

Film review Tom Cruise, 50, is still like a puppy in this relentless action soap opera

Arts and Entertainment
Rachel McAdams in True Detective season 2

TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

    Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

    I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
    Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

    Margaret Attwood on climate change

    The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
    New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

    New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

    What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
    Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

    The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

    Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
    Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

    Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

    The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
    Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

    Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

    The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
    Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

    Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

    Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
    Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

    Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

    Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
    Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

    Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

    The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
    10 best waterproof mascaras

    Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

    We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
    Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

    Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

    Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
    Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

    England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

    The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
    Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

    Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

    British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'