Henry Moore, an English Sculptor, was born in Castleford, West Yorkshire, England on July 20, 1898. Unlike several children making whimsical fantasies about their future, Henry Moore knew he wanted to be a sculptor at an early age, even though he produced over 7000 drawings within his lifetime. Drawing for him mainly functioned to develop an idea for his sculpture—“a means of generating ideas for sculpture, tapping oneself for the initial idea” (9). Drawings served as a developmental stage, constructing a sculptural image, and inevitably determined which sculptures were made and which ones were discarded.
Several of Henry Moore’s notebooks have survived and suggest his development as an artist. In 1921 Moore, attending Leeds College of the Arts two years prior, became a student at the Royal College of Arts (RCA). Though he was generally uninspired and felt that the teaching was narrow, he became fascinated with the human figure, thereby, teaching himself how to draw it. His Nude Study of a Seated Girl (1924) was not achieved with arduous shading but rather through quickly working with various materials. While he was studying the human figure he adopted Leon Underwood, who had a profound influence upon Moore’s work, as his instructor. Underwood insisted that Henry “had to know the laws of light falling on a solid object and reflecting it back to the human eye; and that being translated into a two-dimensional representation. [He’s] not born with this understanding; [he] has to learn it; [he] has to be taught it” (21). According to Andrew Causey, the almost metallic nature in the consecutive Standing Nude Girl and One Arm Raised (1922) reflects Underwood’s influence.
Standing Figure (1923): Henry used Standing Nude Girl, One Arm Raised (1922):
Pencil, pen and ink, brush and ink, and Henry used chalk, crayon, wash, pen, and
Wash. Used hatching technique to build up ink.
Torso and reduce emphasis on the outline.
Nude Study of a Seated Girl (1924): Henry used chalk and watercolor.
Henry Moore constructed the notion that drawing should not imitate the effects of sculpture. Within his early sketchbooks, Moore emphasized the idea that an image (i.e. human body) “gains strength in drawing from being conceived in terms of mass” (24). It was in 1922, in his first visit to Paris where Moore became influenced by Picasso’s recent paintings of giant female figures. Due to these figures, Moore preferred “pent-up energy,” expressed through relation of masses. Causey states, “Impersonality through lack of facial features is a recurrent theme in Moore’s sketchbook notes. This is demonstrated in his sketch of Two Seated Figures.
Two Seated Figures (1924): Henry used pencil, pen, and ink.
Moore visited the Auguste pelerine collection of Cezanne’s in 1922, as well. Henry Moore describes Cezanne’s figures as having a “monumentality about them [he] liked….[They] were very sculptural in the sense of being big blocks and not a lot of surface detail about them. They are indeed monumental” (27). Cezanne’s painting Les Grandes Baigneuses lacked surface detail, which appeals to Moore. It eliminated everything that was deemed unnecessary for strong expression. It had a primitiveness that Moore liked. Thought Cezanne worked in two dimensionality, Moore drew different lessons from historical paints and sculpture and he explored the notion of turning two-dimensional representations into three-dimensional figures.
Studies of Nudes (1922-1924): Henry used pencil, pen, and ink. This sketchbook entry followed his observation of Cezanne’s Les Granes Baigneuses. Henry was interested in making these two dimensional figures into block-like sculptures.
In 1925, Moore was awarded an RCA scholarship to travel in Italy. While he was there, he became interested in Giotto and the post-Giottesques leading to Masaccio. He labeled them as being of “greatest interest” (34). Between 1928 and 1930, Moore, influenced by Italian classicism, surpassed conventional drawing and transitioned into designs, such as Woman in Armchair (1930) and Reclining Figure (1929). They were painted using oils—applied with both brush and palette knife, alongside typical drawing materials like charcoal and chalk. These two paintings’ vitality does not rest within facial expression or gestures, but rather within the “built-up energy in the body mass” (34). This trend of body expression continues throughout his work and even transitions into his surrealist art later in his career.
Woman in Armchair (1930): Henry Moore used brush and ink, as well as oil paint.
In the late 1920s, washes of color were introduced with his first exhibition at Warren Gallery, London, in 1928. Moore included the words “green” and “pink” in the picture titles, thus, demonstrating that his drawing/paintings were gaining some independence from his sculptures, since his sculptures never had color (9). Most of these drawings date from the 1920s; however, Surrealism kindled his interest to draw once again, though less rigorously, until the 1950s (9).
Though Henry Moore began drawing as a means of jotting ideas down for sculpture, these drawings began to take their own collective existence. Kenneth Clark, director of the National Gallery from 1933 to 1946, stated that these works have a “life sequence of their own” (10). During the 1940s (Surrealism and Neo-Romanticism periods), Moore’s drawings, though visually connected to his sculptures, became increasingly darker within the backdrop of World War II. Surrealist art convey vividness, surprise, undermining expectations, and anxiety that sculptures could not. Hi surrealist art increased during this period. He commissioned the drawing of Londoners sheltering from the Blitz in the London Underground and of miners at work. In these years, Moore became interested in how people were reduced to objects or rather how seeming lifeless objects conveyed personage.
Sleeping Shelterer (1940-41): Henry used pencil, wax crayon, colored crayon, watercolor wash, and gouache
Tube Shelter Perspective the Liverpool Street Extension: Henry used pencil, wax crayon, colored crayon, chalk, watercolor wash, pen and ink.
Moore’s drawings decreased in the 1950s. The reason for this, according to Cauley, was that Moore, as a sculptor, found working with clay as an equivalent to drawing or alleviated the need to draw. In 1974, Kenneth Clark concluded a book of Moore’s drawings because he believed that Moore was done drawing; however, Moore began drawing once again in the 1970s partly due to an increase in his printmaking activity.
The reason why I chose Henry Moore as the topic of this blog is because I am attracted to his later work. I really like surrealism because I have a surrealistic imagination at time. There is something about surrealism that affects my emotions and I do not know how to adequately express how it affects me. It might be because visually it affects me while other paintings require me to interpret what is trying to be conveyed.
Causey, Andrew. "The Human Figure." The Drawings of Henry Moore. Burlington: Lund Humphries, 2010. 7-41. Print.
Kennedy, Maev. "Henry Moore: The Invisible Man." The Guardian. Guardian News, 18 Feb. 2010. Web. 6 Oct. 2014. <http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2010/feb/18/henry-moore-sculpture-tate>.
"Tube Shelter Perspective 1941." TATE. Web. 6 Oct. 2014. <http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/moore-tube-shelter-perspective-n05709>.