Monday, December 28, 2009

I always seem to be interested in influences and beginnings, so I was intrigued to learn that Henry Moore was the seventh child of a Yorkshire miner. (Awful to think about the amount of talent never developed because the artist is stuck in a mine somewhere in England or China or Africa.)

So where did that early impulse toward making art come from? Apparently he had decided to become a sculptor by age 10 or 11. He was blessed with the good fortune of receiving support for his artistic interests, with great encouragement coming from a grammar school teacher. And ten years later, after two years of war service he was able to study art with the help of an ex-serviceman's grant, studying first at Leeds and then in London.

He made countless trips to the British Museum to study art and sculpture of many cultures. I guess it's not that surprising to learn that seeing a pre-Columbian chac mool (above) had a powerful effect on him and led to one of his most important early sculptures, below, Reclining Nude (1929).

(He was also knocked out after seeing Matisse's The Bathers.)

Moore describes the kind of sculpture he most admires: it's "not perfectly symmetrical, it is static and it is strong and vital, giving off something of the energy and power of great mountains." His interest in the English landscape comes through in his creations, where knees and breasts are like hills and mountains. And those empty spaces within the sculptures are made use of, too, aren't they? Here's Reclining Nude, created when he was in his early thirties.

Through all the many years of work, he never really headed into complete abstraction; there always seems to be some connection to the human figure. I don't think you ever get tired of looking at his work. What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. There's a very cool website here:
    Contains lots of bio info on Moore as well as images of his artwork. Worth a visit.