Saturday, October 29, 2016

Toronto: "Henry Moore’s Big Bronze Whatchamacallit"

"Henry Moore’s Big Bronze Whatchamacallit", Toronto, Ontario, Canada. June 2016.

My hostess, Sandy, and I visited the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) during one of its free-admission evenings. While on a docent-led tour, we entered a gallery with work by Henry Moore.

I liked Mr. Moore's smooth, touchable, curvy lines.

Arguably, it's Henry Moore's work that pushed Toronto out of its allegedly-staid comfort zone in 1966. Fifty years ago.

His piece was a modern "whatchamacallit" which was to anchor the new City Hall plaza.

So much controversy surrounded the sculpture that the city posted a 24-hour police guard during its installation.

From the Torontoist, July 2010, which revisited a 1966 story about the new public art work in front of the new Toronto City Hall: Henry Moore's Big Bronze Whatchamacallit:

Shown a depiction of the sculpture, Controller Herbert Orliffe asked in puzzlement: "What meaning has the sculpture? What does it represent?"

"It is not representative of anything at all," Professor Arthur answer. "You don't look for meaning in a modern piece of sculpture - it's not like the Peter Pan on Avenue Road - you look for the beauty of form and mass. It is not supposed to have meaning [in that fashion]." 

The above is precisely what causes my friend, Sandy, consternation when she looks at some modern art. Lack of discernible meaning irritates her. Indeed, she, I, and her friend, Heloise, had an energetic trialogue about same as we walked past The Archer one day.

I subscribe to the belief that we humans are hard-wired to place meaning on everything we see. So even if Professor Arthur's analysis of modern sculpture is true - in theory - it fails in practice. We will always place meaning on what we see. When we can't fit any meaning to something we see, we become disgruntled.

As for me, its obvious that Henry Moore's The Archer is entirely phallic.

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