Henry MOORE ( 1898 - 1986 )
Henry Spencer Moore was an English sculptor and artist. He was best known for his semi-abstract monumental bronze sculptures which are located around the world as public works of art. His forms are usually abstractions of the human figure, typically depicting mother-and-child or reclining figures. Moore's works are usually suggestive of the female body, apart from a phase in the 1950s when he sculpted family groups. His forms are generally pierced or contain hollow spaces. Many interpreters liken the undulating form of his reclining figures to the landscape and hills of his birthplace, Yorkshire. Moore was born in Castleford, the son of a coal miner. He became well-known through his carved marble and larger-scale abstract cast bronze sculptures, and was instrumental in introducing a particular form of modernism to the United Kingdom. His ability in later life to fulfill large-scale commissions made him exceptionally wealthy. Yet he lived frugally and most of the money he earned went towards endowing the Henry Moore Foundation, which continues to support education and promotion of the arts. Before the war, Moore had been approached by educator Henry Morris, who was trying to reform education with his concept of the Village College. Morris had engaged Walter Gropius as the architect for his second village college at Impington near Cambridge, and he wanted Moore to design a major public sculpture for the site. The County Council, however, could not afford Gropius's full design, and scaled back the project when Gropius emigrated to America. Lacking funds, Morris had to cancel Moore's sculpture, which had not progressed beyond the maquette stage. Moore was able to reuse the design in 1950 for a similar commission outside a secondary school for the new town of Stevenage. This time, the project was completed and Family Group became Moore's first large-scale public bronze. In the 1950s, Moore began to receive increasingly significant commissions, including a reclining figure for the UNESCO building in Paris in 1958. With many more public works of art, the scale of Moore's sculptures grew significantly and he started to employ an increasing number of assistants to work with him at Much Hadham, including Anthony Caro and Richard Wentworth. On the campus of the University of Chicago in December 1967, 25 years to the minute after the team of physicists led by Enrico Fermi achieved the first controlled, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction, Moore's Nuclear Energy was unveiled on the site of what was once the university's football field stands, in the rackets court beneath which the experiments had taken place. This 12-foot-tall piece in the middle of a large, open plaza is often thought to represent a mushroom cloud topped by a massive human skull, but Moore's interpretation was very different. He once told a friend that he hoped viewers would "go around it, looking out through the open spaces, and that they may have a feeling of being in a cathedral." In Chicago, Illinois, Moore also commemorated science with a large bronze sundial, locally named Man Enters the Cosmos (1980), which was commissioned to recognise the space exploration program. The last three decades of Moore's life continued in a similar vein; several major retrospectives took place around the world, notably a very prominent exhibition in the summer of 1972 in the grounds of the "Forte di Belvedere" overlooking Florence. Following the pioneering documentary 'Henry Moore', produced by John Read in 1951, he appeared in many films. In 1964, for instance, Moore was featured in the documentary "5 British Sculptors (Work and Talk)" by American filmmaker Warren Forma. By the end of the 1970s, there were some 40 exhibitions a year featuring his work. The number of commissions continued to increase; he completed "Knife Edge Two Piece" in 1962 for College Green near the Houses of Parliament in London. According to Moore, "When I was offered the site near the House of Lords ... I liked the place so much that I didn't bother to go and see an alternative site in Hyde Park—one lonely sculpture can be lost in a large park. The House of Lords site is quite different. It is next to a path where people walk and it has a few seats where they can sit and contemplate it." As his wealth grew, Moore began to worry about his legacy. With the help of his daughter Mary, he set up the Henry Moore Trust in 1972, with a view to protecting his estate from death duties. By 1977, he was paying close to a million pounds a year in income tax; to mitigate his tax burden, he established the Henry Moore Foundation as a registered charity with Irina and Mary as trustees. The Foundation was established to encourage the public appreciation of the visual arts and especially the works of Moore. It now runs his house and estate at Perry Green, with a gallery, sculpture park and studios. The aftermath of World War II, The Holocaust, and the age of the atomic bomb instilled in the sculpture of the mid-1940s a sense that art should return to its pre-cultural and pre-rational origins. In the literature of the day, writers such as Jean-Paul Sartre advocated a similar reductive philosophy. At an introductory speech in New York City for an exhibition of one of the finest modernist sculptors, Alberto Giacometti, Sartre spoke of "The beginning and the end of history". Moore's sense of England emerging undefeated from siege led to his focus on pieces characterised by endurance and continuity. Moore's signature form is a reclining figure. Moore's exploration of this form, under the influence of the Toltec-Mayan figure he had seen at the Louvre, was to lead him to increasing abstraction as he turned his thoughts towards experimentation with the elements of design. Moore's earlier reclining figures deal principally with mass, while his later ones contrast the solid elements of the sculpture with the space, not only round them but generally through them as he pierced the forms with openings. Earlier figures are pierced in a conventional manner, in which bent limbs separate from and rejoin the body. The later, more abstract figures are often penetrated by spaces directly through the body, by which means Moore explores and alternates concave and convex shapes. These more extreme piercings developed in parallel with Barbara Hepworth's sculptures. Hepworth first pierced a torso after misreading a review of one of Henry Moore's early shows. The plaster Reclining Figure: Festival (1951) in the Tate, is characteristic of Moore's later sculptures: an abstract female figure intercut with voids. As with much of the post-War work, there are several bronze casts of this sculpture. Moore's early work is focused on direct carving, in which the form of the sculpture evolves as the artist repeatedly whittles away at the block. In the 1930s, Moore's transition into modernism paralleled that of Barbara Hepworth; the two exchanged new ideas with each other and several other artists then living in Hampstead. Moore made many preparatory sketches and drawings for each sculpture. Most of these sketchbooks have survived and provide insight into Moore's development. He placed great importance on drawing; in old age, when he had arthritis, he continued to draw. After the Second World War, Moore's bronzes took on their larger scale, which was particularly suited for public art commissions. As a matter of practicality, he largely abandoned direct carving, and took on several assistants to help produce the larger forms based on maquettes. By the end of the 1940s, he produced sculptures increasingly by modelling, working out the shape in clay or plaster before casting the final work in bronze using the lost wax technique. These maquettes often began as small forms shaped by Moore's hands—a process which gives his work an organic feeling. They are from the body. At his home in Much Hadham, Moore built up a collection of natural objects; skulls, driftwood, pebbles, rocks and shells, which he would use to provide inspiration for organic forms. For his largest works, he usually produced a half-scale, working model before scaling up for the final moulding and casting at a bronze foundry. Moore often refined the final full plaster shape and added surface marks before casting. Moore produced at least three significant examples of architectural sculpture during his career. In 1928, despite his own self-described "extreme reservations", he accepted his first public commission for West Wind for the London Underground Building at 55 Broadway in London, joining the company of Jacob Epstein and Eric Gill. In 1953, he completed a four-part concrete screen for the Time-Life Building in New Bond Street, London, and in 1955 Moore turned to his first and only work in carved brick, "Wall Relief" at the Bouwcentrum in Rotterdam. The brick relief was sculpted with 16,000 bricks by two Dutch bricklayers under Moore's supervision. Most sculptors who emerged during the height of Moore's fame, and in the aftermath of his death, found themselves cast in his shadow. By the late 1940s, Moore was a worldwide celebrity; he was the voice of British sculpture, and of British modernism in general. The next generation was constantly compared against him, and reacted by challenging his legacy, his "establishment" credentials and his position. At the 1952 Venice Biennale, eight new British sculptors produced their Geometry of Fear works as a direct contrast to the ideals behind Moore's idea of Endurance, Continuity. Yet Moore had a direct influence on several generations of sculptors of both British and international reputation. Among the artists who have acknowledged Moore's importance to their work are Sir Anthony Caro, Phillip King and Isaac Witkin, all three having been assistants to Moore. Other artists whose work was influenced by him include Helaine Blumenfeld, Drago Marin Cherina, Lynn Chadwick, Eduardo Paolozzi, Bernard Meadows, Reg Butler, William Turnbull, Robert Adams, Kenneth Armitage, and Geoffrey Clarke. Moore's first solo sculpture exhibition was held at Warren Gallery in London in 1928. His first retrospective took place at Temple Newsam, Leeds, in 1941. Moore was given his first major retrospective abroad by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1946. In 1948, Moore was one of the featured artists of the Festival of Britain in 1951and documenta 1 in 1955. His sculpture and drawings have since been the subject of many museum exhibitions and retrospectives, including the Whitechapel Gallery, London (1957); Tate Gallery, London (1968); Forte di Belvedere, Florence (1972); Tate Gallery and the Serpentine Gallery, London for the occasion of Moore's 80th birthday (1978); Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (1983); Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Alex Rosenberg, in dialogue with Helaine Blumenfeld New York (1985),Wakefield (1987); Royal Academy of Arts, London (1988); Shanghai Art Museum (2001); National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. (2001); CaixaForum, Barcelona, (2008); Kunsthal, Rotterdam (2006, travelled to Didrichsen Art Museum, Helsinki in 2008); Kew Botanical Gardens, London (2007–08); Tate Britain (2010); and the Kremlin Museum, Moscow (2012).