There’s a lot of fine sculpture dotted around London, much of it by giants of the art world like Jacob Epstein, Barbara Hepworth and Antony Gormley. Of all the modern chisellers, though, one name stands head and shoulders above the rest (even when he neglected to include such anatomical niceties in his work). Henry Moore (1898-1986) remains the most famous sculptor of the last hundred years. His work is on public display in more locations than any other artist. And he’s the subject of a major new exhibition at Tate Britain on Millbank at the moment.
But Moore’s great sculptures in stone and bronze are best appreciated in the wild, so to speak. You’ll also save yourself the £12.50 entrance to Tate’s show if you’re prepared to put in a little legwork and track down the artist’s many outdoor sculptures in London.
Start on New Bond Street. An atypical piece by Moore furnishes the upper stories of number 153, and shows various abstract figures, some human, some not, arranged in a stone screen. From here, make your way through Mayfair and St James’ Park to 55 Broadway, the headquarters of London Underground. This immense 1930’s office block is adorned with stylised sculpture from some of the leading names of the day, including Epstein, Eric Gill and Moore. The latter’s contribution ‘the West Wind’ can be found on the north-east face. It’s Moore’s earliest work on show in London.
A short walk down to the Houses of Parliament now brings us to Knife Edge, a 1962 bronze piece on College Green familiar from a thousand political news broadcasts. Head south along the Embankment and, just beyond Tate Britain, you’ll find another large bronze. This one is known as Locking Piece, and was created around the same time as the previous sculpture. After a slightly longer, but pleasant, stroll along the north bank of the Thames, we cross at Chelsea Bridge and enter Battersea Park. Here, near the lakes, you’ll find Three Standing Figures (1947) carved from white stone.
If I’ve left you wanting Moore, a few additional examples can be found further out. Hop over to Charing Cross Hospital (Hammersmith), where you’ll find a reclining figure in bronze. Kenwood House, to the north of Hampstead Heath, contains a further example of the reclining figure idea. Yet another can be tracked down to the middle of the Brandon housing estate near Kennington. Finally, you can find a delicate study of the virgin and child at the eastern end of St Paul’s cathedral (inside, admission charge applies), and a curved alter by the master inside the nearby church of St Stephen Walbrook.
All pieces are displayed here on a Henry Moore sculpture map.