In celebration of the 100th birthday of Henry Spencer Moore (1898-1986), the Philadelphia Museum of Art, in partnership with the Fairmount Park Art Association, will present Henry Moore: A Centennial Salute; An Exhibition in Celebration of Philip I. Berman, featuring sculpture and works on paper by one of the greatest sculptors of the 20th century. The exhibition will be on view from July 30 through November 29, 1998, with large sculptures installed on the Museum's East Court and a gallery of smaller work off the Great Stair Hall on the Museum's first floor. Many of the sculptures in the exhibition are lent from the collection of Muriel and Philip I. Berman. Mr. Berman, the late Chairman of the Museum's Board of Trustees, and his wife were enthusiastic admirers of Moore's work and enjoyed a warm friendship with the artist from 1976 until his death in 1986.
Henry Moore rejected the classical ideal derived from the art of ancient Greece, in favor of the raw energy and formal vigor of non-Western art, in particular the pre-Columbian and African art he had studied in the British Museum. Early on, Moore worked primarily in stone, for which he had an innate sensitivity, and helped to revive the long-lost tradition of direct carving in British art. Moore's mature work, which involved intense investigations into three-dimensional spatial constructions, reveals two important concerns for the artist: the hollowing out of solid volumes to reveal internal forms, and the placement of sculpture (especially the human figure in repose) in a natural environment. This interest in the formal and aesthetic possibilities of the reclining figure in landscape led Moore to turn increasingly to modeling and bronze casting. In the decades following World War II, Moore was recognized as a highly innovative sculptor of the first rank and received many important public commissions, such as the enormous reclining figure for the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris (1957-58) and the monumental two-piece reclining figure for the Lincoln Center in New York (1963-65).
As part of this Centennial Salute, the Museum has borrowed three of Moore's monumental bronzes from the Berman Collection to install on its East Court, at the head of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the grand boulevard connecting Philadelphia's City Hall with Fairmount Park. A wonderful counterpoint to the installation is Moore's Three Way Piece Number 1: Points, purchased by the Fairmount Park Art Association in 1967 and located in a landscaped area (between 16th and 17th Streets) at the foot of the Parkway in 1990. Chartered in 1872 to enhance the park environment with sculpture, the Fairmount Park Art Association commissions, acquires, and places public art in settings throughout the park and the city.
As visitors enter the Philadelphia Museum of Art from the East Entrance after seeing the outdoor installation, they will encounter an indoor exhibition consisting of approximately 15 smaller sculptures and five works on paper illuminating Moore's distinguished career. In addition to sculptures from the Berman collection, the exhibition includes Two Forms (1936), an important early stone sculpture in the Museum's own permanent collection, and two of Moore's celebrated drawings of people sheltering in the London subways during the Blitz.
PHILIP I. BERMAN
Philip I. Berman (1915-1997), one of the most enthusiastic and generous patrons of monumental outdoor sculpture in the United States, served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Philadelphia Museum of Art from 1989 to 1997. He and his wife, Muriel, counted themselves privileged to participate in community life and strongly advocated the installation of outdoor sculptures to transform public spaces. Over the decades, the Bermans generously donated many of these sculptures to public institutions, such as museums, colleges and universities, and civic organizations.
The Bermans were instrumental in creating an extensive sculpture park at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, one of the first and most successful projects of its kind. In Philadelphia, the sites of the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University and the Morris Arboretum have all been graced with significant works of sculpture given by the Bermans. Beyond Pennsylvania, the campuses of University of Notre Dame, Rutgers University and Hebrew University (Jerusalem) have been enhanced through the Bermans' efforts. These endeavors were undertaken with a view to enriching the daily lives of people who otherwise would not have access to such works of art.
Philip and Muriel Berman first met Henry Moore on a trip to England in 1976, and they remained fast friends for the remaining decade of the sculptor's life. Over the years they built one of the largest private collections of Moore's work in the world, which includes diminutive bronze models as well as monumental outdoor sculptures and an extensive set of graphic works. The large bronzes lent from the Berman Collection for the Museum's exhibition include three very different variations on the reclining figure, Henry Moore's favorite theme. Reclining Figure: Arch Leg (1969-70) and Three Piece Reclining Figure: Draped (1975) are installed on the East Court, and Reclining Figure: Angles (1979) will dominate the center of the gallery inside the Museum.
"We are thrilled to have this opportunity to share a handsome group of Moore's work with the public on the occasion of his 100th birthday," said Anne d'Harnoncourt, Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. "The exhibition allows us to celebrate two remarkable figures in the arts. Henry Moore was among the greatest sculptors of the 20th century, and Phil Berman was among his most devoted fans as well as one of Pennsylvania's greatest benefactors and art lovers. We salute Moore and celebrate Phil, inspired by his love of transforming public spaces with sculpture, and we are deeply grateful to Muriel Berman for making this possible."
Henry Moore: A Centennial Salute; An Exhibition in Celebration of Philip I. Berman was organized in collaboration with the Fairmount Park Art Association, with the generous support of The Henry Moore Foundation and a contribution from Mr. and Mrs. Raymond G. Perelman.
A catalogue, also titled Henry Moore: A Centennial Salute; An Exhibition in Celebration of Philip I. Berman, has been published by the Museum in conjunction with the exhibition. The main text of the book, written by Michael R. Taylor, Assistant Curator of 20th-Century Art and exhibition organizer, focuses on the 28 works of art by Moore that are featured in the exhibition, and places those works within the context of the sculptor's complete body of work. Anne d'Harnoncourt, Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, has contributed a preface and the introductory essay, "Philip I. Berman: An Artful Life on a Grand Scale."
The 48-page publication features 19 color and 30 black-and-white illustrations, and is available at the Museum Store of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and other booksellers.