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Henry Moore: War and Utility at the Imperial War Museum

This exhibition was originally conceived for the Henry Moore Foundation at Perry Green in Hertfordshire but the Imperial War Museum is a fitting setting for a show which hinges on the artist's experiences during the London blitz.

Tube Shelter Perspective
Tube Shelter Perspective 1941 (courtesy Henry Moore Foundation; photography Michel Muller)

This exhibition was originally conceived for the Henry Moore Foundation at Perry Green in Hertfordshire but the Imperial War Museum is a fitting setting for a show which hinges on the artist's experiences during the London blitz.

The show also touches on Moore's involvement in the response of British artists to the Spanish Civil War.

The Second World War was the only period in Moore's career when he wasn't sculpting so he turned to drawing, and it is these works that form the basis of this exhibition.

The poignant Shelterers series is a reminder of the sanctuary provided by the London Underground when London was under aerial bombardment. And a glance through the window into the IWM atrium reveals contemporary aircraft.

As Moore himself wrote: "I was fascinated by the sight of people camping out deep under the ground. I had never seen so many rows of reclining figures and even the holes out of which the trains were coming seemed to me to be like the holes in my sculpture ... They were a bit like the chorus in a Greek drama telling us about the violence we don't actually witness".

A darkened room houses some of Moore's coalmining pictures depicting skeletal figures toiling deep under ground.

The final room – Austerity and Liberation – looks at the artist's post-war work, including textile prints from a series designed to help revive the fashion industry after the austerity of the war years.

Of local interest is Moore's working model for the scuplture – entitled Reclining Figure: Festival – he created for the Festival of Britain on the South Bank.

This is a relatively small exhibition and whilst Moore has many fans who will no doubt be eager to visit the 7 admission charge seems a little steep.

• At the Imperial War Museum until Wednesday 25 April 2007; listings information

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