Exhibitions: Carving up a fortune: Henry Moore's foundation has been spending again on a new pounds 5m sculpture gallery in Leeds. But is the money being used wisely?

THE HENRY MOORE Foundation is a charitable body that spends money on sculpture. Though its activities aren't much advertised, last week's opening of the new Henry Moore Institute in Leeds draws attention to the foundation's work and the large sums of money involved. Seriously large sums: the foundation is still expanding, and already it is giving away more than pounds 1m a year in grants, quite apart from the monies that are used to maintain Moore's old home at Much Hadham in Hertfordshire or to establish such new premises as this pounds 5m development in the centre of Leeds.

The foundation's origins lie in Moore's tax problems during the last years of his life. It was established in 1977, with a remit 'to advance the education of the public by the promotion of their appreciation of the fine arts and in particular the works of Henry Moore'. One recognises that this charter was drawn up by accountants and lawyers. But the business has been remarkably successful since Moore's death in 1986. The foundation has funded many exhibitions, certainly not all consisting of Moore's own work and including shows by contemporary artists he might not have immediately liked. Public galleries have been refurbished; museums have been helped with acquisitions and conservation programmes; there are bursaries for sculptors and art historians.

In such ways the foundation does nothing but good. At the same time - as perhaps with all modern trusts of this sort - there are oddities and perhaps contradictions in its ethos. Some people say that the foundation is more generous than it is inventive. Future plans are not quite clear. The original trustees were all friends of Moore himself. The director today is Sir Alan Bowness, former director of the Tate Gallery. The chairman is Lord Goodman. The most influential trustee is Joanna Drew, former director of art at the Arts Council.

Indeed the management of the Henry Moore Foundation is a direct descendant of the Arts Council before Thatcherism, both in personnel and ethos, since Goodman was the ACGB chairman and Bowness its art panel chairman in the late 1960s and 1970s. Crucial to the foundation will be the choice of Bowness's successor when he leaves his post.

Among the front runners are proteges of Drew and Bowness such as Andrew Dempsey (now at the Hayward), Catherine Lampert (director of the Whitechapel Gallery) and Richard Francis (freelance curator, formerly director of the Liverpool Tate). Competition will be stiff. Every arts administrator in the country, exhausted from carrying begging bowls from sponsor to sponsor, longs for a job with such a budget, and a salary to match.

Meanwhile, the foundation shows off its new pounds 5m sculpture gallery in Leeds. It incorporates offices and a study centre and has been converted from three Victorian wool merchants' houses in Cookridge Street, next door to the Leeds City Art Gallery. The architects are Jeremy Dixon and Edward Jones, who have produced an adroit and functional building. The black marble facade is less than welcoming, but inside are exhibition galleries - designed with sculpture in mind - that are of a high standard. They will be used for temporary exhibitions, and it's hard to think of any sculpture that would not look well in such spaces.

A neat bridge links the new institute with the old City Art Gallery, where there are already sculpture galleries donated by Moore himself. At present there's a show there of his Stonehenge lithographs, numerous of his sculptures and the Eric Gill retrospective from the Barbican. The bridge seems almost symbolic. You step from the old museum to the new, or vice versa, and the pivot is always Henry Moore. This is like the man, who genuinely believed that all previous sculpture, primitive, Renaissance or whatever, was summarised in his work. Moore's feelings about the future of art are not clear. His relations with younger artists were not especially warm, though he was kindly to his apprentices. But now that so much Moore money is being lavished, one gets the feeling that all sculpture passes through his hands, eternally. Needless to say, this is an untenable position.

Hence the important dullness of the Henry Moore Institute's first exhibition, 'Romanesque - Stone Sculpture from Medieval England'. We are told one significant reason for exhibiting such works: Moore was impressed as a child by the sight of 12th-century carvings in a church near his home at Castleford. Romanesque sculpture therefore has a double aura of sanctity. Besides its own merits, it was loved by the miner's son, the boy who would become the most celebrated sculptor in all the history of England. In addition there is a good charitable reason for the show. The foundation has helped to pay for the renovation and display of such medieval sculpture, in particular the figures from St Mary's Abbey, York, that are now in the Yorkshire Museum.

At the centre of the Leeds show are closely related figures, statues that were originally on the front of York Minster. They were stored in the crypt in the Sixties but have now been rescued and restored. One must of course applaud such an enterprise. Doubtless the figures are important, and York Minster is a beautiful building. But the sad fact is that the restoration programme came too late. We are not given sculpture in which one discerns a previous aesthetic force. These are ghosts and ruins, sculptures too far gone to have a life in art.

So it is with many archaeological museums that we dutifully visit, all around the world, peering at shards of pottery, broken statuary, quarters of cornices. The present display is a degree grander, but still not substantial enough to satisfy the eye. Ben Heywood has done splendid research in putting this show together and there is a fine catalogue. Alas, the show isn't splendid at all, though probably it would have looked worse in any other gallery. Next on the Leeds programme is that over-exhibited warhorse of minimal art a quarter of a century ago, Sol Le Witt. The foundation is admirable, but it lacks vision.

Exhibition continues at the Henry Moore Institute (0532-467467) to 18 June.

(Photograph omitted)

Arts and Entertainment
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
The party's over: Paul Higgins and Stella Gonet in 'Hope' at the Royal Court

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special

Broadcaster unveils Christmas schedule

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Look out: Broad shoulders take Idris Elba’s DCI John Luther a long way
tvIdris Elba will appear in two special episodes for the BBC next year
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is dominating album and singles charts worldwide

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Midge Ure and Sir Bob Geldof outside the Notting Hill recording studios for Band Aid 30

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tvThe two new contestants will join the 'I'm A Celebrity' camp after Gemma Collins' surprise exit
News
The late Jimmy Ruffin, pictured in 1974
people
News
Northern Uproar, pictured in 1996
people

Jeff Fletcher found fame in 1990s

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the new Paddington bear review

Review: Paddingtonfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Tony stares at the 'Daddy Big Ears' drawing his abducted son Oliver drew for him in The Missing
tvReview: But we're no closer to the truth in 'The Missing'
Arts and Entertainment
Henry Marsh said he was rather 'pleased' at the nomination
booksHenry Marsh's 'Do No Harm' takes doctors off their pedestal
Arts and Entertainment
All in a day's work: the players in the forthcoming 'Posh People: Inside Tatler'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne plays Stephen Hawking in new biopic The Imitation Game

'At times I thought he was me'

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
One Direction go Fourth: The boys pose on the cover of their new album Four

Review: One Direction, Four

music
Arts and Entertainment
'Game of Thrones' writer George RR Martin

Review: The World of Ice and Fire

books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Bean will play 'extraordinary hero' Inspector John Marlott in The Frankenstein Chronicles
tvHow long before he gets killed off?
Arts and Entertainment
Some like it hot: Blaise Bellville

music
Arts and Entertainment
A costume worn by model Kate Moss for the 2013 photograph

art
Arts and Entertainment

music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
    Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

    Putin’s far-right ambition

    Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
    Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

    Escape to Moominland

    What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
    Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

    24-Hour party person

    Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
    Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

    A taste for rebellion

    US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
    Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

    Colouring books for adults

    How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
    Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

    What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

    Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
    Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

    Call me Ed Mozart

    Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
    10 best stocking fillers for foodies

    Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

    From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
    Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

    Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

    Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
    'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

    'I am a paedophile'

    Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
    How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

    How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

    Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
    Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

    From a lost deposit to victory

    Green Party on the march in Bristol
    Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

    Winter blunderlands

    Putting the grot into grotto
    'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

    'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

    London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital