Many sculptors have come and gone over the years, leaving light traces or none at all of their presence in the sculpture realm. Henry Moore does not fit into either of these two categories. Because of his original style and techniques, Henry Moore has made a dramatic effect in present day sculpting. He has opened many doors for practicing artists in a sense that was not portrayed prior to his era. Henry Moore combined his childhood experiences with his interactions between other artists to develop his distinguishing style of sculpting.
Henry Moore was born in Castleford, Yorkshire on July 30,1898. He was the seventh of eight children to Raymond and Mary Moore. His father, Raymond Moore, worked at a local mining ore while his mother stayed at home tending Henry and his siblings. Henry first developed an interest for art while attending Sunday school. He specifically remembered a talk on Michelangelo, which initiated his interest in sculpting. Henry’s teachers all through secondary school encouraged his interest in the art field.
When Henry Moore graduated from school, he was not too sure what he wanted to do with his life. His father preferred him to become a teacher, a social advance for children in mining villages. Moore pondered the thought of becoming a teacher and eventually fell into the field after there was a teacher shortage in 1914 due to people being called up for selected services. Moore spent three miserable years as a teacher before he was called up to Civil Services Rifles. The Civil Service Rifles was much more enjoyable for Moore and he would later write to his father about his pleasurable experiences.
While fighting battles in France, Moore was injured and sent back to England to be hospitalized. Following the war, Moore was given a grant to further his education at Leeds School of Art. Moore received a scholarship to transfer from Leeds to Royal College of Art (RCA) in London, a more prestigious art institute. After Henry Moore’s graduation from RCA in 1924, he traveled to Italy to study a different culture’s artwork. His exposure to Italian artwork provided Moore with different views on the meaning of “art”.
In 1926, Moore returned to RCA and took up teaching as an art professor. It was then that he met his future wife Irina Radetzky in the classroom. Moore and Radetzky married in 1929, three years after their meeting of each other. Three years after their marriage, Moore resigned from RCA and obtained a job as head of the sculpture department at Chelsea College of Art. In 1934, he and his wife purchased a house and land in Kent. Henry worked at Chelsea College of Art until 1939 when the college was relocated to Northampton. It was then that Henry decided to rely solely on his income from pieces of artwork that he sold. To do so, Henry and Irina moved to London.
In the following years, Henry Moore became an international celebrity, averaging more than forty exhibitions a year. In 1972, Moore displayed his largest exhibition ever in Florence, Italy. Flocks of people gathered in the historical city to catch glimpses of his artwork. Moore’s success encouraged other aspiring artists and in 1977 the Henry Moore Foundation was formed. The Henry Moore Foundation provided a place for struggling artists to receive grants to further their interest in sculpting. Henry Moore passed away on August 31, 1986 in Much Hadham. At the time of his death, Moore was still sculpting seven days a week and his exhibition were still taking place. .
Henry Moore had many influences on his life and his artwork. One of his most cherished influences was his family. His father provided Henry with a foundation for a strong work ethic. His father always insisted he strive to succeed and always do his best at everything. Henry used his father’s words of wisdom to guide him through life and troubled times. Although Moore was influenced by his father, his mother was the one who really had the greatest impact on his work as a sculptor. Henry’s sculptures were predominantly of warm, loving female figures with their children. It was through his mother’s love and care that Henry created these mother figures with their infants.
Another impacting aspect of Henry’s life on his artwork was his studying of Mexican Aztec sculptures. Moore attended many Spanish museums on his frequent trips to Spain and was intrigued by the Aztec artwork. As displayed in much of Moore’s work, the Aztec’s used rhythm and shapes to portray certain feelings and emotions. Moore demonstrates this concept in his series of reclining sculptures. Below are a few of them:
(Two-piece reclining figure)
(Three-piece reclining figure)
Henry Moore’s artwork was also influenced
by his experiences at war and in war surroundings.
In particular, the underground bomb shelters during
air raids in WWII influenced Moore the most. Moore
would use the underground subway system and was
intrigued by what he saw. After his trips through the
underground shelters, Moore would hurry home to
sketch the interesting subject matter.
Because of Moore’s frequent trips to neighboring countries and his loving family, his artwork was reflected by these two aspects. Moore has influenced present day artists with original interesting style. Henry Moore once said, “The creative habit is like a drug. The particular obsession changes, but the excitement, the thrill of your creation lasts” I believe in this statement wholeheartedly. I believe in it because although times change and new forms of art are introduced, artists will always look back on the previous eras to admire and gain ideas from their work. In turn, the ideas gained from viewing the art is incorporated in some way through the new style.
After viewing many sculptures done by Moore, I gained knowledge about his style of work. I learned that Moore pays very little and sometimes no attention to details when he sculpts. Moore also incorporates a little of his own experiences into his works.
An example of this is present in the sculpture Falling Warrior (below).
In this sculpture, Moore reenacts the moments right before death. This type of situation is probably something Moore can relate to because of his experiences in WWI.
Henry Moore left an everlasting impact on the world of art. The way he conveyed his emotions and feelings into his subject matter is inspirational to all who view his work. Moore introduced a new style of sculpting that defined the use of shape and rhythm. Moore’s artwork while be a model for future aspiring artists who want to explore new forms of sculpting.
Andrews, Julian. Henry Moore: Sculpting the 20th Century. Dallas: Yale University Press, 2001.
Moore, Henry. Henry Moore: My Ideas, Inspirations, and Life as an Artist. New York: Collins and Brown. 1999.
Green, Perry. Henry Moore: Biography. 2001. 19 October 2002. ;http://gouk.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.henry-moore-fdn.co.uk%2Fhmf%2Fbiograpy.htm;.
Wallis, Anthony. Henry Moore. 2001. 15 October 2002. http://www.casandpont.freeserve.co.uk/moore.htm.