HIDDEN TREASURES: FLESH & BONE

We continue with our series of articles written by guest writers on the theme of ‘Hidden Oxford’.

Colin Harrison, Senior Curator of European Art, the Ashmolean Museum writes about the exhibition Francis Bacon/Henry Moore: Flesh and Bone.

We are delighted that we are able to once again reunite these artists in this major exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum. This show brings a fresh perspective to Francis Bacon & Henry Moore, highlighting important influences, experiences & themes in their work.

There are 62 works of art on display in ‘Flesh and Bone’. Of those 13 have been lent by private collectors giving the visitor the rare opportunity to see these hidden treasures not normally on display to the public.

At first sight, the two greatest British artists of the twentieth century could not seem more different: Henry Moore, primarily a sculptor who also made superlative drawings; & Francis Bacon, a painter who rarely drew. Yet, unlike most of their contemporaries in this country, both artists concerned themselves with universal human truths, &, from their different perspectives, the ways in which the human figure can illustrate & exemplify those truths.

Bacon, regarded as one of the 20th – century’s greatest painters, was fascinated by sculpture & his art is fundamentally sculptural in the way in which uniquely amongst major modern painters, he evokes three dimensional figures in space. Moore, internationally renowned for his sculptures, was also a fine draughtsman & the exhibition includes a group of the poignant shelter drawings that first brought him fame as a war artist in the early 1940s.

With works selected by Martin Harrison, Francis Bacon expert, & Richard Calvocoressi, Director of the Henry Moore Foundation, this is one of the most ambitious exhibitions ever mounted in the Ashmolean. It has received great critical acclaim (‘brilliant’ The Observer, ‘one of the most fascinating displays of the year’, The Times) so do come & see the show before it tours to the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.

Francis Bacon Henry Moore/ Flesh and Bone is open until 19 January 2014. For information & tickets see www.ashmolean.org/exhibitions/baconmoore/