Henry Moore (1898 – 1986)
Bronze, height 300cm
The son of a Yorkshire coal mining engineer, Moore studied at Leeds School of Art in 1919, after war service in France. In 1921 he won a scholarship to the Royal College, London. An enthusiastic modernist, Moore kept in touch with European developments and admired the work of the British sculptors Epstein, Gaudier-Brzeska and Gill. In 1928 he received his first commission, a relief for the London Underground Headquarters. His work of this period shows the influence of Epstein and ‘primitive’ Mayan art. During the 1930s Moore was associated with the group of Hampstead artists that included Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth. The abstract biomorphic carvings of this period, including Family (1935; Henry Moore Foundation) and Square Form (1936; Norwich, Sainsbury Centre), are among his most innovative works and, like Hepworth, he also explored the potential of the pierced form. ‘The first hole made through a piece of stone is a revelation’, he wrote. ‘The hole connects one side to the other, making it immediately more three-dimensional’. In 1940 Moore was commissioned as a war artist and he made numerous drawings of sleepers in the London Underground during the Blitz. Over the next decade he established an international reputation, receiving the International Sculpture Prize at the Venice Biennale of 1948. Throughout the 1950s monumental reclining female figures, of varying degrees of abstraction, dominated his work, culminating in the Reclining Figure carved for the UNESCO building, Paris, in 1957. He also produced increasing numbers of modelled and cast figures and through the 1960s experimented with sculptures in several parts. The Henry Moore Foundation, based at Moore’s home in Much Hadham, Hertfordshire, continues to champion his work and support the promotion of the arts.
In 1954 Moore was asked to create a sculpture for the courtyard of the new Olivetti office building in Milan. When he visited the site, ‘A lone Lombardy poplar growing behind the building convinced me that a vertical work would act as the correct counterfoil to the horizontal rhythm of the building.’ This idea grew ultimately into the Upright Motives. Predominantly geometric elements are piled one on top of the other. Blocks and irregularly placed cubes or discs articulate the verticals: ‘I started balancing different forms one above the other – with results rather like the North-West American totem poles – but as I continued the attempt gained more unity.’
November 16, 2014
Jeddah Sculpture Park