- The Washington Times - Friday, October 19, 2001

Spiritual and aesthetic elements were combined for a reason at Wednesday night's gala preview dinner celebrating the National Gallery of Art's latest blockbuster exhibition, a retrospective of the work of sculptor Henry Moore that opens to the public tomorrow.

"Henry Moore's art is so spiritual," arts patron Catherine B. Reynolds said at the reception. The entrepreneurial McLean resident, whose foundation underwrote the show, the first major retrospective of the British artist's work in more than a generation, further explained that she had hired the two star vocalists for the occasion "to relate the performing arts to the visual arts."

Mary Moore Danowski, the artist's daughter, who had flown in from London with her three children, praised the show for being "very comprehensive," with "some very interesting juxtapositions and some wonderful drawings." The drawings in pen, chalk, crayon, watercolor and gouache that Mr. Moore rendered of Londoners huddled in the Underground stations during the World War II blitz helped launch her late father's career, she acknowledged.

"Those drawings seem at the moment very relevant," she noted. "One hates to say it, but they seem remarkably similar to some of the photographs that one is seeing of devastation [today]."

In her remarks at dinner, Mrs. Reynolds pursued the same point, saying, "Today we are victims of another war our country may be weary, but it is not weakened."

Longtime gallery visitors are more familiar the artist's giant bronze sculpture outside the East Building, "Knife Edge Mirror Two Piece" (1977-78), which was specially commissioned for the spot.

"They wanted a monumental piece to go with the building," Calvin Cafritz said, adding that his mother, the late Gwendolyn Cafritz, had been persuaded to donate funds by former gallery director John Walker.

She gave funds, but no directives concerning the form of the work itself, apparently, because the artist, of course, didn't do pieces to order.

"He once told me, 'Sculpture is not costume jewelry,'" recalled former Director J. Carter Brown, who is living in Boston these days.

A much smaller version of the piece owned by Aaron Fleischman was one of few of the master's works loaned by local patrons. Morton Junger, who has a large bronze reclining woman in his back yard in Potomac, recalled the time he and his wife visited Mr. Moore in his atelier. Initially, the artist told them they "couldn't possibly buy a piece, there already were too many others on the list."

Guests dining on an appropriately British-themed menu of North Sea salmon and crab, Yorkshire game birds and apricot charlotte included a number of senators trying to relax after a harrowing day on Capitol Hill.

Asked about the anthrax scare that shut down the House of Representatives until next week, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison stressed the symbolic importance of the Senate's contrarian decision to remain in session "even though most of the staff is gone."

"There's too much fear in my opinion,"growled Sen. Ted Stevens, a distinguished World War II veteran. "My generation was prepared for war and made a commitment. This generation doesn't know how to react."

Nevertheless, Mr. Stevens admitted the lower house's decision to adjourn was "reasonable" enough, given that "they have five times as many rooms to check."

Also on the guest list at what turned out to be one of the gallery's most memorable and dramatic evenings in recent years: Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Sens. Thad Cochran and Judd Gregg, Joe and Barbara Jean Allbritton, Roger and Victoria Sant, Julie Finley, Letitia Baldrige and Robert Hollensteiner, C. Boyden Gray, Lucky Roosevelt, Marc and Jacqueline Leland, Bill and Buffy Cafritz, Bill and Ann Nitze, Leo and Graga Daly and Gahl Hodges Burt.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide