Other Criteria: Sculpture in 20th Century Britain At the Henry Moore Institute, 74 The Headrow, Leeds, until 28 March, 2004
This exhibition marks the 10th anniversary of the Henry Moore Institute, which opened in a former wool warehouse, strikingly converted by Jeremy Dixon and Edward Jones, in 1993. Since then, the institute's parent body, the Henry Moore Foundation, has ploughed £15 million into its activities in Leeds, into exhibitions, conferences, lectures, fellowships, publications and the development of its collections.
Leeds has clearly gained from its association with Henry Moore, but the relationship is very much a partnership between the institute and the Leeds museums and galleries. Alongside Other Criteria, you can see - in the City Art Gallery, across Dixon.Jones' bridge - a new display of sculpture and supporting material curated by the institute; the two institutions are, where sculpture is concerned, run in tandem and effectively share a unified collection.
Other Criteria reflects the breadth of that collection in terms not just of completed works of sculpture and maquettes but equally of drawings, photographs, the letters and other papers of sculptors, publications and printed ephemera - all of which illuminate aspects of the practice of the art. Here are press cuttings about Epstein's Adam, once consigned to a freakshow in Blackpool but now to be seen in Harewood House, near Leeds; drawings by Richard Deacon and Tony Cragg; Sir Charles Wheeler's 1962 diary; a pendant made by Henry Moore in 1923 and a note in which Hamo Thornycroft asks 2/6d for his autograph (the proceeds went to Battersea Dogs'Home).
One of the largest exhibits is Alfred Gilbert's magnificent chimney piece, completed in 1913 and installed in the house of the Leeds collector Sam Wilson. Long buried in an obscure room in the City Art Gallery, this work can be seen for the masterpiece of the 'New Sculpture' that it is.
One of the achievements of the Henry Moore Institute has been to position sculpture firmly within its social and political context - exhibitions on Nazi and, more recently, Italian Fascist sculpture were pioneering exercises in this direction. Sculpture has suffered, institute curator Penelope Curtis argues, from being seen as purely formal gallery art, a progression of star figures from Michelangelo to Moore. One of the achievements of recent British sculpture, notably the 'land' works of Long, Nash and others, has been to erode that preconception; while Anish Kapoor has worked with success in challenging urban situations, including Tate Modern's turbine hall.
The institute has fostered interest in architectural sculpture, in largely forgotten artists like Gilbert Ledward, Gilbert Bayes and A H Gerrard, and more recent figures such as Laurence Bradshaw (responsible for Karl Marx's monument at Highgate Cemetery) and Peter Peri, both artists strongly aligned with the Left. A further element in the institute's work - underlined by the careers of Epstein, Peri, Kapoor and many others - has been the exploration of the cosmopolitan and international nature of British sculpture during the last century or more.
In tandem with the activities of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, a short drive away down the M1, the Henry Moore Institute has made West Yorkshire a major European centre for the display and study of sculpture.
The institute itself, however, cannot expand physically on its present site and Leeds City Council now faces the challenge of reconstructing the City Art Gallery (which is in poor condition, with one large gallery closed on safety grounds). The Henry Moore Foundation is likely to provide some funding, but the bulk of the finance must come from elsewhere. The city missed out on the major Lottery grants that paid for the reconstruction of Manchester City Art Gallery, for example. As the 10th anniversary celebrations got under way, this prospect provided a sobering thought.
Kenneth Powell is an architectural journalist