LARGE ARCH : HENRY MOORE : 1971
The Back Story
Large Arch was created by sculptor Henry Moore – the most celebrated British artist of the 20th century.
It was selected for the public plaza after library architect I.M. Pei suggested that Moore’s curvilinear work would contrast well with the rectilinear style of his library as well as First Christian Church,
It is the centerpiece of the library plaza that is paved with bricks and the arch sits in the center of a slightly raised roundabout. Henry Moore said he had always wanted to create the sculpture that could be walked through and around, ever since he visited Stonehenge.
Large Arch was sand cast in bronze in fifty sections in West Germany and shipped up the Mississippi River to the Ohio River, then up the interstate. Similar, but smaller, bronze arches by Henry Moore are on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Lynden Sculpture Garden in Milwaukee, and the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, but this is the largest of its kind in the United States.
Xenia and J. Irwin Miller commissioned the sculpture and donated it to the library.
Insight from a local biography of Irwin Miller
Perhaps no piece of architecture in Columbus pleased Miller as much as the family’s gift of the Large Arch, a bronze sculpture by Henry Moore. He wrote:
“We have just finished a remarkable new plaza here. It is surrounded by a 30-year-old church designed by Eliel Saarinen, and a brand new county library by I.M. Pei. In its center is one of the largest sculptures Henry Moore has ever done, commissioned for the spot. This is now one of the great [public] spaces in America … in a most real and human way, it has now become a physical and spiritual center of our town. It has made the plaza of which it is in the focus of one of the finest spaces in America.”
[ See The Cathedral Builder by Charles Rentschler, available in the Visitors Center Gift Shop ]
Henry Moore photographed at Perry Green during the filming of ‘Out of Chaos,’ 1944 / photo: Lee Miller © Lee Miller Archives
Moore raising a toast in Amsterdam c.1969.
A John Hedgecoe shot of Henry Moore leaping off the loading bay in Perry Green.
More pages of interest
Library / I.M. Pei
Pei’s library carries on a dialogue with the historic Irwin House to the east and Eliel Saarinen’s First Christian Church on its south.
Chaos I / Jean Tinguely
This thirty-foot tall installation is the largest and most important work by Jean Tinguely in the United States.
All of the public art
For a city of only 50,000 residents, Columbus has a remarkable collection of public art.
The Columbus movie
Multiple scenes in the critically-acclaimed movie, COLUMBUS, feature the area around Large Arch.