International Exhibition – Albert Moore: Of Beauty and Aesthetics – (2016-17)

Museum De Buitenplaats, Netherlands - 10 December 2016 – 19 March 2017; York Art Gallery - 7 April – 1 October 2017

Albert Moore: Of Beauty and Aesthetics, the first monographic exhibition of artist Albert Joseph Moore since his death in 1893, was held at the Museums De Buitenplaats, Netherlands from 10 December 2016 – 19 March 2017 (entitled Albert Moore : Over schoonheid en esthetiek), before transferring to York Art Gallery from 7 April – 1 October 2017.

In partnership with the Museums De Buitenplaats, Netherlands, senior curator of art at York Art Gallery Laura Turner worked closely with Professor Elizabeth Prettejohn (University of York) in creating the exhibition, which was also based on recent research by Dr Robyn Asleson (The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery), author of Albert Moore (Phaidon Press, 2000/2004).

Albert Moore exhibition poster: Museum De Buitenplaats, Holland (2016-17)

Albert Moore exhibition poster: Museum De Buitenplaats, Holland (2016-17); featuring 'Midsummer' by Albert Moore, 1887, reproduced with the kind permission of the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, Bournemouth.

Albert Moore (1841-1893) was one of the leading artists of the Aesthetic Movement who prioritised mood, colour harmony and beauty of form over subject matter to create ‘art for art’s sake’. As well as this aim of ‘art for art’s sake’, the exhibition explores Moore’s ‘Eternal Beauties’ and his development as a painter.  It considers how Moore is now gaining recognition as a significant figure in the transition from representation to abstraction, adding weight to the argument for wider reassessment of Moore’s work, in particular regarding his contribution to Modernism.

The exhibition featured more than 30 paintings and watercolours from galleries and private collections from across the United Kingdom. It included paintings depicting the beautiful and classical women, for which the artist is most famous, as well as works that serve to demonstrate the progressive style which made him a significant forefather of British Abstract art.

Dr Turner said: 'We are thrilled to be bringing together some of Albert Moore’s most significant works to celebrate this extraordinary painter in his home city.

'At a time when the Victorians were looking for moral significance or narrative in works of art, Moore was producing work purely for visual pleasure. He was a firm believer in “art for art’s sake” who placed more value on the overall visual unity of the work rather than the actual subject. This was misunderstood by many of his contemporaries and critics of the day which meant his work was not fully appreciated during his lifetime and has been sparsely exhibited since.

'We hope this exhibition, with new research on his life and body of work, will bring a justified prominence to Moore and his position as one of the forefathers of British Abstract art.'

The exhibition at the Museum De Buitenplaats was reviewed by Dutch newspaper Dagblad van het Noorden and arts magazine KunstKrant (January-February 2017, p.20), as well as by 'LizofShalott'. When it moved to York Art Gallery, Artists and Illustrators featured Albert Moore in an 'Arty Fact' article by Natalie Milner (August 2017, p. 82), The Yorkshire Post interviewed curator Laura Turner; and  Country Life devoted a double-page spread to Peyton Skipwith's review (30 August 2017, pp 94-5). The exhibition was also reviewed by Charles Hutchison in The Press and at The Kissed Mouth.

In conjunction with the exhibition, The Museum De Buitenplaats hosted a music recital on 12 February 2017. 'For Beauty's Sake' was performed by baritone Robbert Muuse and pianist Micah van Weers. The programme included songs by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Rebecca Clarke, Roger Quilter, Percy Grainger and Cyril Scott, setting the work of poets closely associated with or influenced by the Pre-Raphaelite movement, including Christina and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Ernest Dowson, Tennyson, Rosamund Marriott Watson and Yeats.

Samantha Timm (University of York), holder of the 2016-17 Friends of York Art Gallery Research Scholarship, gave a public talk 'Albert Moore: Of Beauty and Aesthetics' at York Art Gallery on 19 April 2017.

Ilka Heale, Metadata Specialist in the University of York's Library and Archives, wrote an article for the University's Information Services blog  Inspiring Minds, linking Albert Moore to the University’s art collection.

A study day and international conference ‘Rethinking Albert Moore’ took place at the University of York in July 2017.

A booklet to accompany the York exhibition was produced by post-graduate students overseen by Professor Prettejohn.

A Venus, by Albert Moore (York Art Gallery)

Albert Joseph Moore, A Venus (1969), oil on canvas; image courtesy of York Museums Trust :: http://yorkmuseumstrust.org.uk/ :: Public Domain

Loves of the Wind and the Seasons, by Albert Moore, Blackburn Museum and Art Gal

Albert Moore, Loves of the Wind and the Seasons (1892), oil on canvas; image courtesy of Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery

The Toilette, by Albert Moore (Tate)

Albert Moore, The Toilette (1886), oil on canvas; image © Tate (2016), CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0, http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/moore-the-toilette-n05876

A Sleeping Girl, by Albert Moore (Tate)

Albert Moore, A Sleeping Girl (c.1875), oil on canvas; image © Tate (2016), CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0, http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/moore-a-sleeping-girl-t04877

A Garden, by Albert Moore (Tate)

Albert Moore, A Garden (1869), oil on canvas; image © Tate (2016), CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0, http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/moore-a-garden-t03064

Published 13 April 2017; updated 27 June 2017, 5 October 2017, 6 February 2018

Main image: Exhibition banner for 'Albert Moore: Of Beauty and Aesthetics' at York Art Gallery, 2017; featuring 'Midsummer' by Albert Moore, 1887, reproduced with the kind permission of the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, Bournemouth.

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