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    In Situ: Henry Moore, David Finn, and the Experience of Location

    Black-and-white photograph of David Finn (left) and Henry Moore choosing the photographs for the book "Henry Moore: Sculpture and Environment"

    David Finn (left) and Henry Moore choosing the photographs for the book Henry Moore: Sculpture and Environment, mid-1970s

    In 2016, David Finn, the world-renowned photographer and founding father of public relations, donated his photo archive to the department of image collections at the National Gallery of Art. This archive includes more than 110,000 negatives, transparencies, and images on contact sheets and more than 35,000 corresponding large photographic prints. It reflects and expands upon Finn’s photographic books and articles on sculpture and includes photographs of sculpture from all over the world made between the 12th and 20th centuries. In many cases, Finn focused his work on living sculptors—none more so than his close friend Henry Moore, whose monumental work is particularly well represented in this archive.

    Moore believed that location played a crucial role in the understanding of his sculpture—that the setting surrounding a sculpture was as important to the viewer’s experience as the sculpture itself. He placed great emphasis on the importance of contrast and noted that vast, natural settings were ideal in highlighting this effect.

    Black-and-white photograph of a Henry Moore sculpture, "Upright Motive No. 1: Glenkiln Cross," in the Forte di Belvedere, Florence

    Henry Moore, Upright Motive No. 1: Glenkiln Cross (LH 377), 1955–1956, bronze, in the Forte di Belvedere, Florence 

    Black-and-white photograph of a Henry Moore sculpture, "Upright Motive No. 1: Glenkiln Cross," in the Glenkiln Sculpture Park, Scotland

    Henry Moore, Upright Motive No. 1: Glenkiln Cross (LH 377), 1955–1956, bronze, in the Glenkiln Sculpture Park, Scotland

    Black-and-white photograph of a Henry Moore sculpture, "The Arch," in the Forte di Belvedere, Florence

    Henry Moore, The Arch (LH 503b), 1971, fiberglass cast, in the Forte di Belvedere, Florence

    This emphasis on location inspired Finn to travel the world documenting Moore’s sculptures in their many different settings. He described and published those photos, many of which are included in this feature, in his book Henry Moore: Sculpture and Environment

    Their close friendship gave Finn a unique ability to capture Moore’s intention for his work. Moore not only discussed his work at length with Finn, but he also trusted Finn implicitly as a photographer of sculpture. Moore elaborated on the considerations that led him to emphatically recommend Finn as the sole photographer for an important artist monograph on the German Renaissance sculptor Heinrich Brabender:

    I suggested that Brabender’s work not be shown through standard academic photographs, representing, as they usually do, straight front or side views. A sculptor would like to see his work photographed in a different way, at least that’s the way I feel about my work. To do the right kind of book on Brabender’s sculpture, new photographs ought to be taken with the eye of a sculptor. I suggested that David Finn, whose photographs of sculpture I like, might be interested in photographing all of Brabender’s work in a way that would show what a fine sculptor he was. [1]

    Black-and-white photograph of a Henry Moore sculpture, "Large Two Forms," in the Forte di Belvedere, Florence

    Henry Moore, Large Two Forms (LH 556), 1971, fiberglass cast, in the Forte di Belvedere, Florence

    Black-and-white photograph of a Henry Moore sculpture, "Large Two Forms," in the Jardin des Tuileries, Paris

    Henry Moore, Large Two Forms (LH 556), 1971, fiberglass cast, in the Jardin des Tuileries, Paris

    By photographing casts of the same work in various locations, Finn managed to capture the vastly different visual experiences created for each cast by the surrounding context. Finn’s work is especially important when one considers that some of Moore’s favorite settings for sculpture were temporary and no longer display his art. The David Finn Archive preserves the photographic remains of Moore’s original vision for the interplay between sculpture and setting in the Glenkiln Sculpture Park, the Forte di Belvedere in Florence, and the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris during the 1977 Paris Exhibition. Though most of Moore’s work no longer exists in these locations, Finn’s photography documents the experiences the sculpture created in each setting. 

    Glenkiln Sculpture Park

    Black-and-white photograph of a Henry Moore sculpture, "King and Queen," in the Glenkiln Sculpture Park, Scotland

    Henry Moore, King and Queen (LH 350), 1952–1953, bronze, in the Glenkiln Sculpture Park, Scotland

    The Glenkiln Sculpture Park was one of Moore’s favorite locations. Finn noted, “I knew these were Moore’s favorite sites for his sculptures because he kept photographs of them mounted on the walls of one of his studios.”[2] Moore worked closely with his friend Sir William Keswick, the owner of Glenkiln, to plan and prepare the perfect location for each of the sculptures Sir William commissioned. The sparse, hilly landscape provided many opportunities for Moore’s work to be elevated and placed in clear contrast with the vast horizon and open stretches of windswept land. 

    Black-and-white photograph of a Henry Moore sculpture, "Two-Piece Reclining Figure No. 1," in the Glenkiln Sculpture Park, Scotland

    Henry Moore, Two-Piece Reclining Figure No. 1 (LH 457), 1959, bronze, in the Glenkiln Sculpture Park, Scotland

    The Glenkiln Sculpture Park in the Dumfries and Galloway Council Region of southwest Scotland was once the home to several works by Moore: Standing Figure, King and Queen, Upright Motive No. 1: Glenkiln Cross, and Two-Piece Reclining Figure No. 1. After the theft of Moore’s still-unlocated Standing Figure on October 13, 2013, King and Queen was removed to storage for security purposes. Moore’s Upright Motive No. 1: Glenkiln Cross and Two-Piece Reclining Figure No. 1 still stand in Glenkiln Sculpture Park, but Standing Figure and King and Queen will likely never be on view in this location again. 

    Forte di Belvedere

    Black-and-white photograph of a Henry Moore sculpture, "Reclining Figure," in the Forte di Belvedere, Florence

    Henry Moore, Reclining Figure (LH 608), 1969–1970, bronze, in the Forte di Belvedere, Florence

    In 1972, the Forte di Belvedere in Florence became the temporary setting for an extraordinary solo exhibition of Moore’s work. His enthusiasm for this site is evident in a letter written to the mayor of Florence regarding the exhibition: “And so my close relationship with Florence grows, and I feel it is my artistic home. Therefore, this opportunity to hold an exhibition at the Forte di Belvedere, I accept with gratitude, but also with some apprehension! . . . No better site for showing sculpture in the open air, in relationship to architecture, and to a town could be found anywhere in the world than the Forte di Belvedere, with its impressive environs and its wonderful panoramic views of the city.”[3]

    The Belvedere was commissioned by Ferdinando I de’ Medici and built by Bernardo Buontalenti between 1590 and 1595. Situated in the hills south of the Arno River, the Belvedere held a key defensive position and was crucial to the protection of Florence and the Medici family. Its elevated location atop the highest hill in the Boboli Gardens gives the Belvedere an expansive view of the Florentine skyline, with the Florence Cathedral featured prominently. The distance between the fort and the individual buildings of the skyline allowed for an interesting background that did not compete with Moore’s sculpture but promoted contrast. In Finn’s photographs, rather than appearing visually busy or confusing, Moore’s work unfolds as an integrated whole against the horizon.

    Black-and-white photograph of a Henry Moore sculpture, "Standing Figure," in the Forte di Belvedere, Florence

    Henry Moore, Standing Figure (LH 290b), 1971–1972, white marble, in the Forte di Belvedere, Florence

    Black-and-white photograph of a Henry Moore sculpture, "Standing Figure," in the Glenkiln Sculpture Park, Scotland

    Henry Moore, Standing Figure (LH 290), 1950, bronze, in the Glenkiln Sculpture Park, Scotland

    Jardin des Tuileries

    Black-and-white photograph of a Henry Moore working model for "Standing Figure: Knife Edge" in the Forte di Belvedere, Florence

    Henry Moore, Working Model for Standing Figure: Knife Edge (LH 481), 1961, bronze, in the Forte di Belvedere, Florence

    Black-and-white photograph of a Henry Moore sculpture, “Standing Figure: Knife Edge,” in the Jardin des Tuileries, Paris

    Henry Moore, Standing Figure: Knife Edge (LH 482), 1961, bronze, in the Jardin des Tuileries, Paris

    The final temporary setting presented here is the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris, commissioned in 1564 by Catherine de’ Medici, queen of France, as an Italian Renaissance garden. Moore’s sculpture was shown there in the 1977 Paris Exhibition. This location serves as a foil to that of the Glenkiln Sculpture Park and the Forte di Belvedere, as Moore found it to be a less effective setting for his work. 

    In the 1977 Paris Exhibition catalog, Kenneth Clark gave a lackluster assessment of the Tuileries as a setting for Moore’s work: “The Scottish moorlands are where Moore’s bronzes find their meaning: without a doubt, they lose a bit of their strength in the elegant organization of the Tuileries. Even if the sculptures do not fit completely in the Parisian setting, the majesty of their form and their vitality will be enough to shape their surroundings.”[4] This critique is in line with Moore’s apprehension toward urban environments. The tightly organized elegance of the Tuileries did not allow Moore’s sculpture the same impact as did vast, open, natural landscapes. The organized pathways on which Moore’s works were placed provided framing for the works but did little in the way of providing contrast. Rather than being effectively highlighted by the background, the sculptures were forced to compete with it.

    Black-and-white photograph of a Henry Moore sculpture, "Oval with Points," in the Forte di Belvedere, Florence

    Henry Moore, Oval with Points (LH 596), 1968–1970, bronze, in the Forte di Belvedere, Florence 

    Black-and-white photograph of a Henry Moore sculpture, "Oval with Points," in the Jardin des Tuileries, Paris

    Henry Moore, Oval with Points (LH 596), 1968–1970, bronze, in the Jardin des Tuileries, Paris    

    As Moore’s works are stolen, moved, bought, and sold, the David Finn Archive at the National Gallery of Art provides a point of stability where we can continue to behold them in the settings of Moore’s lifetime, sensitively captured in situ by a photographer “with the eye of a sculptor.”

    Black-and-white photograph of a Henry Moore sculpture, "Large Square Form with Cut," in the Forte di Belvedere, Florence

    Henry Moore, Large Square Form with Cut (LH 599), 1969–1970, Italian white marble, in the Forte di Belvedere, Florence 

    Further Reading

    Armstrong Leone, Sally, and Carol Capobianco, eds. Moore in America: Monumental Sculpture at the New York Botanical Garden. Bronx, NY, 2008.

    Brown, J. Carter. Museum without Walls: Henry Moore: In New York City. n.p., 1984.

    Finn, David. Henry Moore: Sculpture and Environment. New York, 1976.

    Finn, David. One Man’s Henry Moore. Redding Ridge, CT, 1993.

    Finn, David. The Way Forward: My First Fifty Years at Ruder Finn. New York, 1993.

    Hall, Donald, and David Finn. As the Eye Moves . . . : A Sculpture by Henry Moore. New York, 1973.

    Moore, Henry. Henry Moore at the British Museum. New York, 1981.

    Pieper, Paul. Heinrich Brabender: Ein Bildhauer der Spätgotik in Münster. Münster, 1984.

    Spender, Stephen, and David Finn. In Irina’s Garden, with Henry Moore’s Sculpture. London, 1986.

    All images are gelatin silver photographs by David Finn, © David Finn Archive, Department of Image Collections, National Gallery of Art Library and © Henry Moore Foundation. LH numbers in captions refer to the comprehensive catalogue raisonné of Henry Moore’s sculpture published by Lund Humphries from 1988 to 1999.

    1. Henry Moore, Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, ed. Alan Wilkinson (Berkeley, 2002), 143.

    2. David Finn, One Man’s Henry Moore (Redding Ridge, CT, 1993), 31.

    3. David Finn, Henry Moore: Sculpture and Environment (New York, 1976), 476.

    4. “C’est dans une lande d’Écosse que les bronzes de Moore prennent tout leur sens: ils perdront sans doute un peu de leur force dans l’élégante ordonnance des Tuileries. Pourtant si ces sculptures ne se fondent pas absolument dans leur environnement parisien, la majesté de leur forme et leur vitalité suffiront à façonner leur propre monde.” Henry Moore: Sculptures et dessins: exposition, 6 mai–29 août 1977, Orangerie des Tuileries (Paris, 1977), 15.