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Friday
Jul122019

Henry Moore: “Truth to Materials”

Henry Moore - Reclining Figure - 1935-36 - Elmwood - h. 19; l. 35; d. 15 in. - Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo (click photo for larger image)Henry Moore (1898-1986) is widely regarded as the most important British sculptor of the 20th century, and the most popular and internationally celebrated sculptor of the post-war period. He is best known for his semi-abstract monumental bronze sculptures, which are located around the world as public works of art. Moore also produced many drawings, including a series depicting Londoners sheltering from the Blitz during the Second World War, along with other graphic works on paper.

Non-Western art was crucial in shaping his early work. He often used abstract form to draw analogies between the human body and the landscape. 

The foundation of Moore's approach was direct carving, something he derived not only from European modernism, but also from non-Western art. At one point in his career, he abandoned the process of modeling (often in clay or plaster) and casting (often in bronze) that had been the basis of his art education, and instead worked on materials directly. He believed in the ethic of “truth to materials”—the idea that the sculptor should respect the intrinsic properties of media, letting them show through in the finished piece.

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.

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