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Henry Moore Institute

Against Nature

Against Nature

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An interest in metamorphic and fantastic forms fed the imagination of artists since the end of the nineteenth century, shaping what we now see as the beginnings of modern sculpture. Outside of the gallery, Darwin’s theory of evolution provided compelling new contexts for the hybrid.

To say that sculpture was ‘against nature’ at this time is to suggest intriguing lines of enquiry. Sculpture is ideally suited to creating new forms – impossible beings modelled in clay or plaster can be given permanent life in bronze, a material which can mimic the soft fluidity of nature while retaining a solid, ‘real life’ presence. Sculpture can create fantasy creatures that go beyond the natural order, but which by clever modelling techniques appear plausible and which evolution could potentially deliver.

This publication looks at and between the conventional boundaries of Symbolism, Surrealism and other movements in modern art, helping to focus our attention on the more fluid boundaries between dream and reality as effected in the three-dimensional world.

Written in English, Dutch and German, the catalogue features an introduction by Penelope Curtis (Curator of the Henry Moore Institute) and the following essays:

Against Nature: hybrid forms in diverse cultures
Picture essay, selected by Stephen Feeke and Ellen Tait

Against Nature: the hybrid forms of modern sculpture
Jon Wood

Unity Born of Differentiation: thoughts on hybrids in sculpture
Arie Hartog

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