Henri Moore: Reclining figure

Henri Moore: Reclining figure, 1952-53 LH336

The Henry Moore Foundation



Henri Moore: King and Queen

Henri Moore: King and Queen, 1952-53 LH350

The Henry Moore Foundation


Henri Moore: Vertical motif

Henri Moore: Vertical motif, 1955-56, LH 386

The Henry Moore Foundation


Review of a Henry a Moore retrospective in the CaixaForum of Barcelona , September 2006

Along with Constantini Brancusi and Alberto Giacometti, Henry Moore (1898-1986) is the most outstanding figure of the European sculpture of the last century. The son of a mining engineer, and raised in one of the most industrialized zones of Great Britain, Moore developed an exceptional mastery over the bronze and the marble, which allowed him to create a universe of forms and volumes that, from the early figuration to the late abstraction, constitutes one of the more important artistic legacies of the last century.

Henry Moore was born in Castleford, West Yorkshire (England ) in July 30th , 1898. He spent his childhood in a clearly industrialized environment, which perhaps helped him to form his early love of sculpturing forms. In fact, Moore became a sculptor when he was 11 years old, after studying the works by Michelangelo. After the World War I, in which he was injured during the Battle of Cambrai, Moore began to study in the Royal College of Art in London, where he began his sculptural production, influenced by sculptors like Epstein, Brancusi, or even the already mentioned Michelangelo. The exhibition displays -in addition to many small sculptures, many of them with the generic name of "Composition"- several sketches that show Moore's ability to transfer his ideas from his mind to the two dimensions, and then to the volume.

During the decade of the 1930s, Moore took part of the International Surrealist Exhibition, a movement that promoted the introduction of the surrealism in Great Britain . During this decade he began one of his most famous and recurrent compositions, his "Mother and child", some of them present at the CaixaForum exhibition.

The World War II supposed a lapse in Henry Moore's life and works. He momentarily stopped his sculptural investigation and produced several drawings depicting how the War affected to his compatriots. Moore took part in the International Artists Association, a movement of leftist artists and intellectuals against the Nazism and the fascism. Moore himself was affected by the Great War: his house in Hampstead received the hit of a bomb. But Moore 's acts against the war did not end here. In fact, the sculptor was very affected by the Spanish Civil War, to the point that the first lithograph he produced, entitled Spanish Prisoner , was sold to collect funds destined to the Spanish Republicans exiled in France . As it is logical, the Barcelona retrospective puts special emphasis in this aspect of Moore 's oeuvre.

After the War, Henry Moore finally reached his artistic zenith and his international recognition, which culminated in such important works as the sculpture made for the UNESCO building (1957) and another in the University of Chicago. Several masterpieces from this period are present in the exhibition, most notably "King and Queen" (1952-53) and "Head of totem" (1968). However, the works that have given Moore international fame are his "Reclining Figures", masterful studies of the human figure, on different scales and with different materials. Many of these Reclining Figures, as it happens with many other large sculptures by Moore , are conceived to be exhibited outdoors, preferably in the middle of the English nature.

Henry Moore passed away the August 31st, 1986, and was buried in Artist's Corner in the Saint Paul 's Cathedral in London, as other outstanding English artists like Joseph Mallord William Turner.

The CaixaForum exhibition constitutes an extraordinary and very complete review of the oeuvre of one of the essential sculptors of the last century. The event also has another advantage: many of the works exhibited are placed outdoors, as Henry Moore himself would wish.

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