Painter Francis Bacon and sculptor Henry Moore were neither friends nor collaborators in their respective 82 and 88 years on the planet. But they trod the earth at more or less the same time and their body-centric work dealt with themes of human struggle, survival and suffering. Now the two are being united in death in Canada in an exhibition organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario and the University of Oxford’s famous Ashmolean Museum, it was announced Wednesday.
Titled Francis Bacon and Henry Moore, the show, opening April 5, 2014, for a three-month run at the AGO in Toronto, will feature more than 60 works by these two titans of 20th-century art, supplemented with photographs and archival materials dating to the Second World War.
Moore, of course, is no stranger to AGO visitors: Since 1974, the gallery has been home to the Henry Moore Sculpture Centre, which includes an estimated 900 sculptures and works on paper. Bacon, however, has been a much scarcer “commodity”: the AGO has only one work by the Anglo-Irish artist in its collection, a 1983 etching titled Seated Figure, and the 20 or so paintings to be displayed next spring are being billed as “the first Canadian exhibition of Bacon’s work.” The AGO is also promising the Moore portion of the show will include never-before-seen pieces drawn both from the AGO and elsewhere.
Curated by Dan Adler, an associate professor of art history at York University in Toronto, the exhibition has secured loans from such institutions as Tate Britain, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art.