Single Standing Figure (1989.022), 2021, Four projection screens, non-woven polyethylene, Variable dimensions
The human figure is at the centre of Henry Moore’s semi-abstract sculptures, known for their monumental size and open forms. Referencing this aspect of Moore’s style, Desjardins’ work is mostly inspired by the staff member who chose the original object from the collection: her personal relationship to sculpture dating back to childhood, and her father’s relationship to this medium. For her intervention, Desjardins plays with the notion of projection to help us reflect on the links between art and the imaginative world. The anamorphic composition also suggests the complex nature of artistic aspirations, which usually cannot be reduced to a single aspect or grasped in one viewing.
On October 16, 2020, at 3:55 p.m., Julie Armstrong-Boileau, Head of Communications and Marketing, sent Chloé Desjardins a description of the object 1989.022.
The object I chose is a work by the English sculptor Henry Moore made in 1978. Single Standing Figure is the title. I like to translate the title for myself into French: Figure unique debout.
When I arrived in the storage spaces and my colleague Nathalie Galego opened the drawer containing this sculpture, alongside three of its friends of the same size (only one of which was not by Moore), I was surprised to discover that it was much smaller than I thought. It is about the size of a hand: 15.3 x 5.1 x 5.1 cm. It looks a bit like a hand, too. Or a finger, rather. A human appendage, anyway.
I wanted to touch it, but I didn’t dare. It seemed delicate, fragile, alone. The base of the sculpture is (almost) as tall as the standing figure itself. This makes it seem even more delicate.
Unlike other works by Henry Moore from the same series that I found on the web, the sculpture I chose seems incomplete, approximate, blurry. One does not recognize a human silhouette. It looks more like a burnt or dead tree, or even a flame.
The sculpture is made of bronze, the noblest of materials. Like a promise of possibilities. And it is dark brown, like chocolate. Its colour and appearance give me a feeling of calm and a desire for introspection.
I chose this sculpture because it reminds me of my father, who has been searching all his life for a path, a vocation, and who, soon after my birth, got involved in the visual arts. He did his bachelor’s degree in visual arts at UQAM in the 1970s and 1980s, with a specialization in sculpture. The first artists’ names I heard were Picasso, Henry Moore, and Calder. Three names that sounded good. My father used to make me flip through art books. His production was very inspired by Moore’s and Calder’s.
For me, sculpture is an act of strength: a battle with a material, then an object that has an existence of its own, often inescapable. I think I was about nine years old when my father took me to a sculpture studio at UQAM and sat me in the centre of one of his creations. I was sitting in a sculpture. It was carrying me. To discover that a sculpture could carry me made a strong impression on me as a child.
As a child, I loved going to museums. But I much preferred sculpture exhibitions to painting exhibitions. My father reads, he listens to music, he thinks, he writes, he hesitates. He is very solitary. He is standing. His life has probably been smaller than he thought it would be. The contours of his life have somehow escaped him. Kind of like the ones in this Moore piece, which are hard to define.
Henry Moore, Single Standing Figure, 1978, Bronze, 13,3 x 5,1 x 5,1 cm
Collection of Musée d’art de Joliette. Gift of George J. Rosengarten. 1989.022