MOORE Henry
(born in 1894 in Castleford, Yorkshire). After studying at the Leeds School of Art and, later, at the Royal College of Art in London, Moore won a scholarship which enabled him to travel in France and Italy. He has been a member of the London Group and of the Seven and Five Group, and has exhibited at home and abroad with the Surrealists. During the Second World War he made a remarkable series of drawings of London Underground stations in their function as air-raid shelters. In 1934, in a manifesto published by Sir Herbert Read, Moore defined his position in the following terms: 'Beauty, in the later Greek or Renaissance sense, is not the aim of my sculpture. Between beauty of expression and power of expression there is a difference of function. The first aims at pleasing the senses, the second has a spiritual vitality which for me is more moving and goes deeper than the senses'. In response to this conviction, Moore has attempted to give his sculpture a power based on his working out of the sculptural problem rather than on the subject portrayed, while, technically, his purpose has been to form a bridge with the great archaic traditions of Mexico, Egypt and even pre-history. He has sought to attain these ends through respect for his material, feeling that stone, wood or metal -- hard and compact as they are -- should not be made to lose their identity by attempts to make them look like flesh. In all his work from 1930 onwards there is a growing sense of the material being pushed from within by its own inner energy, an aspect perhaps of Moore's increasing preoccupation with the opening-up of the sculptural mass. 'A hole', he has said, 'can itself have as much shape-meaning as solid mass. Sculpture in air is possible, where the stone contains only the hole which is the intended and considered form.' From this conception of truth to material, of the outer forms and surfaces of sculpture resulting from the pent-up energy within, of the penetration of the sculptural mass, have sprung Moore's most typical sculptures. Tunnelled and eroded like some ancient landscapes in miniature, his biomorphic forms are related to that same vision which has led Paul Nash and Graham Sutherland to create 'object-personages' -- double-image metaphors for landscape -- in paint. Moore has acknowledged his particular debt to the organic processes of nature as exemplified in the forms of pebble and rock, shell and tree and bone. He has said, 'I would rather have a piece of my sculpture put in a landscape, almost any landscape, than in, or on, the most beautiful building I know'.
In idiom, Moore has ranged from the sweetly formalized naturalism of the Madonna and Child commissioned for St Matthew's, Northampton, to completely non-figurative exercises in spatial relationships. Best-known are his long series of reclining figures, but among his more notable commissions since the war have been the Three Standing Figures in Battersea Park, London; the abstract screen for the roof of the Time-Life building in London; and the King and Queen group at Middelheim, Antwerp. Moore's central position between realism and abstraction, and the slow working out of his thoughts over a long period, have combined to give great stability to his development. He has worked with stone, wood and bronze with equal ease, and has also experimented with cement and terracotta. His sketches and drawings form a considerable body of work by themselves and are important in their own right: they include not only preparatory studies for his sculptures, but works of independent value in which Moore elaborates new forms and techniques. Moore's work is now to be found in museums throughout the world; he has executed commissions for public monuments and buildings, schools and parks in Britain and other countries; in 1948 he won the International Sculpture Prize at the Venice Biennale and five years later the equivalent prize at the São Paulo Biennal.
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