There’s a lot of Henry Moore in the city of Toronto. After so many years of public school trips to the AGO, it took a fine art education to convince this writer that Moore wasn’t a Canadian sculptor.
In the late 1950’s, British sculptor Henry Moore was at the height of his artistic powers and world-class cities were being defined by their Henry Moore sculptures. New York got a Moore. So did London. And in a classic case of Canadian insecurity, we overcompensated and went about acquiring more Moore than anyone else.
Indeed, the AGO now boasts the world’s most comprehensive public collection of Moore at almost 1,000 pieces. Ergo, we be more world-class than them other cities, no? Well, just in case, we’re getting a flashy new Gehry building, too.
But these days in Toronto, Moore’s work is under siege. His famous Nathan Phillips Square “Archer” finds itself in the middle of that square’s redesign competition; the AGO is in transformation; and the anthropomorphic figures in the Henry Moore collection are surrounded by pole-dancing ladies.
One famous Moore work, his Warrior with Shield, has found a new (temporary) home at the new Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. The sculpture, unveiled yesterday, will be on loan to the Canadian Opera Company though to 2008. “It’s wonderful to join forces with another cultural institution,” says Michael Parke-Taylor, Associate Curator of European Art, “With it’s operatic overtones, this dramatic sculpture speaks to the human spirit.”
Oh, how times change. When Warrior with Shield first arrived in Toronto almost five decades ago, the Globe and Mail called it “a trifle repellent.”
Decide for yourself: Warrior with Shield is on display on the main staircase of the new opera house until February 2008.