Henry Moore, Sculptor, 1888- 1986.
Moore was born and educated in England, the son of a miner, and became one of the most celebrated sculptors of the twentieth century. He produced just over 1,000 separate sculptures. Allowing for single items like carvings and editions of up to nine, there are probably 5,000 Moore sculptures in existence. The drawings run to almost 5,500 items, the graphics to almost 719. (See Berthoud, 412).
As a student, I was aware of Moore mainly though photographs in books or periodicals, but none of my circle were interested in sculpture, so it was not until the summer of 1968 that I first encountered a large Moore bronze – The Archer in Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square. I was immediately fascinated by it: “To move around one of Moore’s [sculptures] is to experience a series of revelations, as one space opens up and another is closed, as one association dissolves into its counterpart, as an unexpected form seems to threaten, but does not destroy, the unity of the whole. Only sculpture can give this feeling of endless exploration.” (K. Clark, Henry Moore Drawings, 1974, p.286). Since then I have been a regular visitor to the Henry Moore Collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario, which has one of the world’s largest permanent, public collections of Moore’s sculpture, drawings and graphics. I also spent a great deal of time at the Exhibition on Moore at AGO in 2010-11. (See Catalogue in Bibliography below).
I have struggled with the manner in which I could present the results of my walk-through of Moore. Unlike music or literature, sculpture has to be accessed directly, has to be “moved around”, and seen three-dimensionally. This can only be done by physically accessing a Moore, and this may not be possible for everyone, although Moore’s work is available in many cities throughout the world (see Finn in the Bibliography below).
I will, then, assume that the reader has some direct access to sculpture of some form, and if not able to access a Moore, can, by looking at photographs, gain some sense of what Moore is creating in a particular piece as presented in the photograph.
There are six volumes of photographs of Moore’s sculptures published by the Henry Moore Foundation. The volumes contain all of Moore’s sculpture, and all of the photographs were taken by Moore himself, who taught himself photography so that his work could be seen through his eye via the camera. I have walked through each volume; the photography is superb, and the experience is exhilarating.
Also of note are the several volumes of photographic essays by Hedgecoe and Finn, plus the various commentaries on Moore by Read, Melville, Russell, Wilkinson. [See the Bibliography below].
By far the best commentary, not least because it is written after Moore’s death and so covers his entire output, is Christa Lichtenstern, Henry Moore: Work, Theory, Reception, 2008. This is a serious study of Moore, conducted over a thirty year period, and is unrivalled in Moore literature. It is a challenging read, but well worth the effort. She makes an outstanding contribution to those of us who must rely on photographs, particularly in her comparisons of the six great reclining figures carved by Moore from elmwood. (pp.247-56, presented in 13 magnificent color photographs. The elmwood series is repeated in the exhibition catalogue, Henry Moore, edited by Chris Stephens, Tate, 2010, but without reference to Lichtenstern).
Once again, the Henry Moore Foundation has published all of Moore’s drawings in seven volumes. Moore’s drawings are fascinating because so many of them are sketches for future sculptures. Moore would draw his ideas, then carve a miniature (technically called “a maquette”) and then carve the sculpture he wanted to create. Once he evolved from direct carving to casting in bronze, he tended to draw less, and to create his maquette from plaster, which would then be used as the basis for the much larger plasters required for the casting of the bronze final product. But he never ceased to draw, almost until his death.
Again, I have walked through each volume, often referring to the photograph of the final sculpture in the Collected Sculptures. Again, this has been exhilarating and informative. It has also been very rewarding, and on this I quote again from Clark: “…if Moore had not been a master of what fifteenth-century Florentines had called ‘designo’, meaning by that something much more than skill, fancy or representation, his invention and confluence of ideas would not have given his sculpture its time-defying consistency. Images must be controlled by the discipline of drawing, and the more complex and recondite they are the stricter the discipline must be. It is this feeling that every form has been perfectly understood and firmly grasped that makes Moore’s drawings hold their own with the greatest drawings of the Renaissance.” (Henry Moore Drawings, p. 286).
The one drawback of these six volumes is that they are almost entirely in black and white, while Moore tended to color his drawings. Clark’s book contains 40 color plates; while Ann Garrould’s Henry Moore Drawings, 1988, contains 168 color plates. (Garrould was Moore’s niece, and the editor of the seven volumes set of his Collected Drawings). The drawings are available in color online, but are not always large enough for adequate viewing. Wilkinson’s 1977 contribution, as well as Mitchinson’s, are entirely in black and white (see Bibliography below). Clark’s observations on Moore’s drawings are insightful and highly recommended. Most of Wilkinson’s scholarly inputs are included in the six volume set.
In his later years, Moore produced many graphics (lithographs, prints, etchings, etc), all of which have been included in the four volume set Henry Moore, Catalogue of Graphic Works, edited by G. Cramer, A. Grant, D. Mitchinson, 1973-88). These are well produced books with magnificent color plates, which are a joy to peruse. I am not sure how accessible the graphics are online. They are of less significance to the sculpture than are the drawings .
The Standard Division of the Periods of Moore’s Development and Output:
That Moore grew and developed over the course of his long life is attested to by the extraordinary variety of work which he produced. It is, however, very difficult to trace all of this in any meaningful way. Bowness’s framework is as good as we can expect, and is one way to approach Moore’s work.
Unlike a playwright like Shakespeare, or an opera composer like Verdi, or a musical composer like Beethoven, a sculptor like Moore does not create a piece to be performed in a specific space and time by a public eager to respond to the work, but rather creates a piece to be “moved around” in some public place by people who want to experience the piece in a specific way which only they, individually, can co-create. And unlike the experiencing of the artworks cited previously, these individuals can select the time they wish for this experience without need for any other intermediary. This is particularly the case with Moore some of whose major works are on public display, cost nothing to view, and are available 24/7. So I will focus on the public works.
And because I live in Toronto, I will focus on The Archer.
This bronze exists in two copies, one in Toronto, the other in The National Gallery, Berlin. [A smaller white marble version was also carved (owned by Didrischen, Finland). Seven other bronzes were cast of a smaller version, one of which is in the Hirshhorn Collection, Washington, the plaster for which is in the AGO].
The Archer is located in Nathan Phillips Square, where Toronto City Hall stands. There is much mythology surrounding the purchase and eventual installation of this piece, which is irrelevant to any viewing. It should be noted, however, that the bronze is situated in a fairly open pedestrian space, and can be viewed against a varied background of buildings, most of which are of dubious architectural value, but which are sufficiently removed from the bronze as to allow an adequate view of the background sky. The closest building, City Hall, is a magnificent architectural achievement, and provides a splendid backdrop to any viewing of the bronze from a southern position.
I believe that any work of art should be approached openly (see Tovey in my notes on Beethoven, etc). Not everyone will be taken by a piece of music, a poem, a play, a painting, or a sculpture, but some individuals will be. And Pound’s argument that people can appreciate a masterpiece at first experience seems to me to be fairly accurate.
The challenge for any work of art is that it requires a person who is willing to allow the work to be appreciated via an aesthetic stance/posture. The definition of “value” in market terms – “what a willing buyer will pay a willing seller” applies analogically here. Thus, while not everyone walking across Nathan Phillips Square will stop to look, and walk about The Archer, some will, and some will be struck by the experience they have as they look and walk about this bronze.
I am always skeptical about comments by artists on their work, because I believe language is inadequate to express what the artist feels when creating a specific work of art, particularly a piece of sculpture like The Archer which is clearly not representational but abstract. Equally, like Moore, and Kenneth Clark, I doubt if events in Moore’s life have any direct, visually/tactile relationship to what he produces. Obviously, there is much “unconscious” influence on Moore, but what the specifics of this are, remains unclear. Herbert Read tends to overdo the Jungian interpretation of Moore’s work, and while Neumann pushed further into the “archetypical” foundations of Moore’s creativity, much of his theory rests on assumptions many of us might question, albeit that they are rich in significance and poetic force. Like Tovey, I believe we need to listen to music, regardless of who wrote it or when it was written. Like Berenson, I believe we should look at a painting, then look again, and again and, regardless of what others may say about the painting, then decide if the experience of looking at the painting has a positive effect on us. And if we look and walk about The Archer, we might be carried away by its vitality, its movement, its intoxicating flow, its form, its line, etc. We will then walk away the richer for this experience which this bronze has created with us, thanks to the creative vision of Moore. But it is the individual who co-creates this relationship of value: a willing “buyer” of The Archer/“seller”.
Toronto also has one of the largest public collections of Moore’s art. Large Two Forms is a very big bronze (20 feet (610 cm) long) which is situated outside of the AGO and so is open to public viewing 24/7. The location of the bronze was too close to the building and lacked the vista of The Archer, which was quite unfortunate for such an impressive piece. In 2017, this bronzewas relocated in the park behind the Gallery, and can now be viewed from all directions and from generous spacing.
Inside the AGO there is a gallery devoted exclusively to Moore, predominantly plasters for bronze castings. These plasters are not quite what the bronze is, but a very close approximation and provide the feel and touch of the bronze when walked around. There are a total on 126 sculptures (maquettes, plasters and bronzes), 73 drawings, and an almost complete set of all of his graphics.
For those of us fortunate enough to live in Toronto, the AGO is a treasure of Moore’s creativity. For those who live without direct access to a Moore sculpture, the photographic essay by Finn is revelatory (although the words by Hall may not suit every taste). It is an extraordinary accident of history that Moore was kind enough to donate so much of his work to AGO (both The Archer and Large Two Forms were purchased, The Archer at a discount).
We know that Moore was a prolific artist, and many consider his sculptures and drawings to contain many masterworks. He was also a quite extraordinary person. He appears to me to me akin to Thomas More, who “did none harm”. Throughout his life, he created few enemies, and even his fellow artists who opposed his suggested gift to the Tate, regretted the pain this affair caused him (especially Caro). He was also, like More, able to attract many friends who remained loyal to him and supported him. Think of Epstein, Read, Clark, Spender, Hedgecoe, Finn, etc. He also had a long, and to our knowledge, affectionate life with his wife Irina. He may have erred in some respects with his daughter Mary, but very little about this has been revealed. We know that she left for South Africa with her husband and first child, and did not return (with their second child) for several years.
Roger Berthoud’s “official” biography does not penetrate Moore in any depth, partly because Moore seems to have remained a fairly secretive individual. We do not really know how he internalized the experience of trench warfare when he was gassed and barely survived (which Gaudier-Brzeska did not), although we have a better sense of his opposition to the bombings of civilians in Spain and subsequently in London and which we can feel in his Shelter Drawings, and in his later Atom Piece with its implicit reference to the nuclear bomb and Hiroshima/Nagasaki.
Moore appears as a man of peace rather than violence, and to epitomise what Clark described in his closing comments in his TV series “Civilization” (and it seems no coincidence that Clark would touch Moore’s sculpture as a final gesture at the conclusion of the series). It is also no coincidence that Clark would have chosen Moore as the ambassador for humanity if ever we were to encounter extra-terrestrial life.
But what is most striking about Moore is his industry. This is a man who worked almost every day on his art, virtually until his death at age 88. Even more significantly, Moore’s large sculptures entered the global market and are to be found in major cities throughout Europe and North America, Australia, Singapore, Israel, Japan (See Finn, Shakerley in Bibliography below). An aspect of his personality which is not explored in any depth is his extraordinary business acumen which enabled him to create such a global market and price for his works, enabling him to live comfortably at his ever-increasing land-holdings at Hoglands, and to eventually establish his own Foundation which continues to sponsor new artists and new artistic endeavours. More attention has been paid recently to the work his wife Irina did to create the grounds and gardens at Hoglands on which Moore’s dream, of how large-scale sculptural works could be part of the outdoor landscape, was implemented (See Spender, bibliography below). This was a co-creation of extraordinary quality and is a necessary element in considering just how Moore believed public space should be used to present sculpture.
1. Moore’s Sculpture:
I would hope that everyone interested in sculpture would one day encounter a Henry Moore in person. Failing access to this, I believe that the number of excellent photographs of his work, available in black and white and in color, could represent a substitute sufficient to capture the vision of Moore as expressed in his works. I have attached a Bibliography which draws attention to what I would consider to be the best photographic essays available and which I hope will be helpful. I have avoided any attempt to single out what some consider to be “masterpieces”, and leave that selection to the individual viewer.
I have found the majority of art critics to be pedantic in their use of language in terms of Moore’s sculpture (but see Lichtenstern). The most appropriate modern observations on Moore come not from art critics, but from the great genius of scientific expression, Jacob Bronowski:
“We have …begun to decipher the orderly code in which the atoms of a living molecule arrange themselves to pass on the message of heredity from one generation to the next. The message is precise, yet the secret of the code is not in the arithmetic – it is in the arrangement, the geometry. This is the outlook of modern science: a search, not for numerical measurements, but for topological relations…It seems to me that artists have been sensitive to this intellectual change, and have reflected it in their work….I find it …in the topological forms to which modern sculpture has refined the traditional nude……The shapes which Henry Moore gives to the human form are strong and highly organized, but they are not organized on the frame of the skeleton. He is saying something else about the body than that it has bones in it; he is saying that the limbs are connected by a geometry which is characteristically human and (in his nudes of women) feminine. The shapes that he makes owe their humanity to their characteristic topology.” (Structure in Art and Science [see bibliography below] p.60). Elsewhere, in his television series The Ascent of Man, Bronowski argues that “Sculpture is a sensuous art…We have to understand that the world can only be grasped by action, not by contemplation. The hand is more important than the eye….[he then stands in front of a Moore bronze]..Henry Moore calls this sculpture The Knife Edge. The hand is the cutting edge of the mind. Civilization is not a collection of finished artefacts, it is the elaboration of processes. In the end, the march of man is the refinement of the hand in action. The most powerful drive in the ascent of man is his pleasure in his own skill. He loves to do what he does well and, having done it well, he loves to do it better. You see it in his science. You see it in the magnificence with which he carves and builds, the loving care, the gaiety, the effrontery. The monuments are supposed to commemorate kings and religions, heroes, dogmas, but in the end the man they commemorate is the builder.” (The Ascent of Man, p. 116. Also YouTube, Jacob Bronowski on Science and Art. See Bibliography below).
I find Bronowski’s comments on sculpture and on Moore infinitely more interesting than the majority of the art critics who write about Moore. It may be significant that Bronowski’s wife Rita was herself an accomplished sculptress.
2. Moore’s Drawings:
Moore’s drawings are considered to be significant works of art in their own right. As mentioned above, if the original is in color, it should be viewed in color, and not simply in black and white, if at all possible. Bronowski has commented on Moore’s drawings: “This way of drawing for sculpture is characteristic of our sense, today, that the structures which lie under the natural forms are minute, and unrelated to the visible outline. The strong shape is filled and organized by invisible linkages of atoms.” (Structure in Art and Science, p. 60). The drawings are a fascinating extension of Moore’s work as a sculptor, and can heighten one’s appreciation of many of Moore’s sculpted work.
3. Moore’s Graphics:
The graphics, while colourful and attractive, add little to the coloured photographic versions of the drawings. As with the drawings, however, they do add a further dimension to Moore’s artistic vision as expressed in his sculpture, and remain a rewarding experience, but not essential.
4. Moore’s Tapestries: Between 1976-1986, 23 large tapestries were produced, interpreted from Moore’s drawings with Moore collaborating. Photographs of the tapestries and the background to their production are contained in A. Garrould and V. Power, Henry Moore Tapestries, 1988. These are interesting extensions of Moore’s artistic vision and were funded by his Foundation. They are of remote interest, and are not essential.
It is supremely worthwhile to experience (by “walking around”) a Moore sculpture; failing the actual physical presence of the sculpture, an attentive perusal of the photographs of a specific work is also worthwhile. To take a moment out of the hurly burly of daily existence just to walk around a Moore sculpture is to experience some of the joy, earnestness and creative energy of Moore, and of life in general.
As promised above, I am providing a brief Bibliography for guidance to those who wish to explore Moore further.
LH: Henry Moore: Complete Sculptures, 6 volumes, Lund Humphries
AG/HMF: Henry Moore, Complete Drawings, 7 volumes, Lund Humphries
CGM: Henry Moore, Catalogue of Graphic Work, 4 volumes, G. Cramer.
I have referred to these above. For those who cannot access these “Catalogue Raisonnes”, I recommend John Hedgecoe, A Monumental Vision. The Sculpture of Henry Moore, 1998. Part Three of this book, “The Works” contains a compendium of 780 sculptures of Moore presented in miniature color photographs together with brief description. Hedgecoe, a photographer, has also produced several other books on Moore which contain photographs which are an alternative to Moore’s own photographs
The authorized biography is Roger Berthoud, The Life of Henry Moore, 1987. This was a mammoth undertaking, and has generally been well received. (Lichtenstern: “excellent biography”) and remains the main source of data on Moore’s life and career. Some of the points he raises en passant have not been elaborated upon since. Examples would be Moore’s short temper, especially in relationship to his daughter Mary (302, 390); his refusal of a knighthood (259); his refusal to visit Spain or Portugal because they were dictatorships at the time (284); his reference to Moore’s trench warfare experience and he having “appeared to walk away from it entirely unscarred. Yet at the deepest level, it must have taken its toll” (47) is not referred to again throughout the book. He refers to Moore’s well-known anecdote of rubbing his mother’s back as “one of his first specifically sculptural experiences” and then adds: “with all its Oedipal undertones it doubtless played no small role in shaping his preoccupation with the female figure as a theme.” (26). [Really? “Doubtless”? Berthoud thus joins the legion of writers who make this causal connection without any real exploration of such a causality or influence. A “sculptural experience” has to do with material and form, not necessarily with Oedipus.]. His reference to the “strongly erotic note” which he finds in some “very masculine” works in the 1962-74 period (294), leads to his conclusion that “Moore’s work was evidence that while late middle age may involve a reduction in sexual activity, it does not necessarily diminish the sexual drive.” (313), another causal link which is unsupported by any evidence in Moore’s life. In reference to Neumann’s book on Moore, he comments that it can be “highly illuminating. Genuinely fresh thought about Moore’s work has been rare” (271), but later argues that “it is as if Moore had been impressed by what Neumann had written about him” (419), when we know that Moore deliberately laid aside Neumann’s book after reading the first few pages, fearing any further exploration may affect his inner vision. He also argues that “the basis of [Moore’s] confidence was the security and affection which he experienced as a child, and the firmness of his Yorkshire roots” (18), assertions that today would surely raise an eyebrow. Particularly questionable is Berthoud’s description of the friendship which evolved between Moore and Kenneth Clark, in which he struggles to account for its possibility (perhaps caused by Clark’s “stunted emotional life” offset by Moore’s emotional security (“happy childhood and his firm Yorkshire roots” again asserted). He concludes his description by proposing that “For Henry, the support and friendship of by far the most influential man in the London art world was of enormous value both psychologically and in practical terms…just as for Clark the friendship of the miner’s son was to provide close contact not just with England’s ‘greatest living artist’ but with a classless Yorkshireman (as Henry came to seem) from a social layer with which he rarely consorted on equal terms: which is not to suggest that any such considerations were consciously [italics] entertained on either side….” (159). [Really?].
Earlier, he had argued that Moore’s juvenile comments to the woman he then loved (unrequitedly) in which he refers to “those richly formed, big-limbed, fresh faced, full blooded country wenches, built for breeding, honest, simple minded, practical common sensed, healthily sexed lasses…suggest that his subsequent portrayal in both sculpture and drawings of generously proportioned female bodies was influenced by personal taste as well as formal considerations.” (83). The woman in question was Edna Ginesi, fiancee of Raymond Coxon whom Moore had met at Art School in Leeds in 1919, and with whom he had become very close friends, a friendship that was to endure Edna’s rejection of Henry’s amorous advances in 1925, and subsequent marriage to Coxon in 1926, when Moore was best man. However, the Moore drawings which Wilkinson believes to be “very like” Edna Ginesi, present a woman who is fairly normal and not at all “generously proportioned” (See Drawings AG.25.37 – 39 and 25.45v). Equally, Irina Radetzky, who had attended the Royal College of Art in painting in 1928, was quickly singled out by Moore (in daughter Mary’s words, which she attributes to her father: “She’s the one for me” as soon as he had seen her), and they were married in July, 1929 (“The Moore Legacy, The Guardian, 27 July, 2008). The various photographs and Moore drawings of Irina (Drawings, AG 29.1 – 20) tend to present her as again fairly normally proportioned. So much for Moore’s “personal taste.”( See also R. Burstow, “Henry Moore ‘Open-Air Sculpture’” in Beckett and Russell, Henry Moore. Critical Essays, 2003, p.171, note 104 where he includes a photograph which shows distant shots of Moore, Irina and Hepworth nude on the beach, together with another presumed photograph of Edna Ginesi, all of whom appear to be normally proportioned).
Berthoud comments on the influence of the Mayan idol called Chacmool on Moore and relies partly on Read for his commentary on the great Reclining Figure of 1929 (LH. 59), the “most overt expression” of Moore’s admiration for Chacmool (103): “regardless of the sources of the idea [of woman as landscape], what matters is that Moore applied it to sculpture with great power….he pioneered in sculpture a romantic fusion of the eternally feminine and the spirit of the land. This aspect of his work has been seized upon by Jungian interpreters, one of whom, Eric Neumann, has justifiably claimed that as Moore’s work develops, ‘the female reclining figure becomes more and more clearly the archetype of the earth goddess, nature goddess and life goddess’”. (104). What Read had argued is slightly different: “To identify Moore’s reclining figures with the Great Mother or the Maternal Feminine, as Neumann does, is a psychological interpretation that may have some relevance to the ‘irrational, subterranean laws of the creative process’, but none to the immediate intention of the artist, which is always, in his own words, to make a piece of sculpture that is ‘static’ and ‘strong’, ‘giving out something of the energy and power of great mountains.’ (Read, Henry Moore, 71). For Read, “the process of assimilation was gradual; it was four years before the ‘shock of recognition’ that had been experienced in the Trocadero [where Chacmool was first seen] found complete expression in the Reclining Figure of 1929.” (72).
Berthoud concludes his biography by stating: “In essence his themes were man, nature, and sex. The sexual drive of his sculpture is the source of much of its power and energy. It is a hymn to the life force and its irresistible thrust…..it was perverse of him (and others) to talk of himself as a humanist….As an artist he was not interested in individuals. Even his more naturalistic figures have only rudimentary features.” (420). We are a long way from Bronowski in this sort of commentary.
Berthoud concludes on Moore the Man: “Only a combination of good fortune – he could easily have been killed or maimed at the battle of Cambria – determination, steadfastness, hard work, intelligence, creativity, and a rare endowment of ability enabled him to get to the top and stay there….Henry Moore was a man of vaunting ambition, determined to be the world’s greatest living sculptor.” (423). We tend to think of Macbeth when we use the terms ‘vaunting ambition…to get to the top and stay there’, but few of us who ‘walk around’ Moore’s sculptures and reflect on the life of this artist would use such terms. Good fortune, talent, hard work and Irina, yes, but hardly Macbeth. Nevertheless, Berthoud remains the ‘authorized biography’ and we must make the best of it in terms of its factual recount of Moore’s life, and sprinkle appropriate amounts of salt on his ventures into Moore’s motivation and vision as an artist.
This is an excellent introduction to Moore, and has been superseded only by Lichtenstern. It was impossible for Read to sum up Moore’s complete achievement, because Moore was to live another twenty productive years after the publication of the book. However, Read’s concluding remarks provide the best insight into his approach as a critic: “Critics may interpret his achievement against the background of their knowledge of the history of art, or the science of art, of human psychology and social history; but the artist himself is not a scientist, a psychologist or an historian. He is a maker of images – or, as I prefer to call them because they have material existence – of icons, and he is impelled to make these icons by his sense of the forms that are vital to the life of mankind.” (259). Bronowski tends to echo these sentiments some years later. Read was a close friend of Moore’s and of many other contemporary artists to whom he dedicated similar appreciative studies which were successfully published. (See, Arp, 1968; Modern Sculpture, A Concise History, 1964, where he refers to the work of Epstein and Hepworth; The Art of Sculpture, 1956, dedicated to Gabo, Hepworth and Moore – “sculptors and friends in gratitude”). A prolific writer on art, political theory and education, Read was very influential in art criticism in England from his return from WWI as a hero and poet virtually until his death in 1968 at the age of 74. He championed Moore tirelessly, wrote the Preface to the first volumes of Henry Moore Complete Sculptures, and, along with Julian Huxley, was instrumental in awarding Moore the commission for the UNESCO 1958 Reclining Figure. Initially influenced by Freud, Read eventually turned to Jung, (the English translation and publication in English of his complete works he was to edit with two other colleagues). There can be little doubt that Read must have influenced Moore considerably in those early years of emergence and experimentation, especially with Hepworth and Nicholson in the years of Unit One (Berthoud, 123-6; Russell, 56)), but no studies on this aspect of their relationship is available. I do not intend to spend time on Read’s art theories at this stage. Read was also friendly with Clark, and they both considered Moore to be a great artist, and both promoted Moore at every opportunity. Their influence had a huge impact on Moore’s popularity and eventual fame as a sculptor. But I believe this was a secondary consideration for these two extraordinary men. I believe that, like Moore, they saw something supremely human in art, and in sculpture in particular, and were thrilled to participate in Moore’s creative life, as friends, as patrons, as humanists. It is fascinating that all three of these men are now somewhat out of fashion with critics and academics, despite the continued vitality of Moore’s sculpture. Read’s 1966 Henry Moore remains the best introduction to Moore. His personal knowledge of Moore’s life and historical context combines supremely well with his intimate knowledge and love of Moores’ sculpture, which he personally selects for photographic display, and unerringly connects across pages and time (the 220 photographs, in black and white, presented in regular book-size pages were taken by Moore himself). Read’s book needs to be augmented by fuller sized photographs of the works, but it remains an outstanding achievement.
This is also an excellent book, but aimed more at someone who has some knowledge of Moore and modern sculpture. The book is printed on larger sized paper (11 x 7 inches) allowing for better presentation of the 220 plates supplied by Moore. Typical of Russell, the book is written in magnificent English style, more as an essay than an attempt to analyze in any depth, and depending on Russell’s vast knowledge of his subject and his works. In this latter respect, he is the equal of Read, but lacks Read’s depth. This is a very readable book. His concluding remarks are a good illustration of what awaits the reader:”Moore has played continuously on the great primary oppositions: horizontal/vertical, open/shut; hollow/solid, animal/mineral, tough/tender, passive/active. He has drawn upon a vast range of secondary allusion, much of it ambiguous; but he has never tried to smother the extremes of his nature. Each has been given its turn: tough and tender have equal rights.” (224). And later: “The private Moore has kept his secrets: their deciphering must wait for another time, and another man, and a different book.” (231). Thus Russell, urbane yet thoroughly familiar with his topic, and always just slightly superficial. Another example would be his reference to The Ring: “It seems natural that Wieland Wagner should have drawn upon Moore’s imagery, as he surely did, for his production of The Ring at Bayreuth in 1965.” This is true, but does it really have anything to do with Moore’s work but rather much more to do with Wieland’s creative response to it? Russell remains a highly readable author on Moore, and well worth picking up, once Read and Lichtenstern have been read.
This is Hedgecoe’s third variation of the same type of book on Moore, published to commemorate the centenary of Moore’s birth. He began in 1968 with a joint production with Moore, which contained an excellent selection of his own photographs (mainly black and white) with a rambling text by Moore, called Henry Moore. This was followed up in 1986 with Henry Moore. My Ideas, Inspiration and Life as an Artist, which again contained a series of mixed black and white and color photographs by Hedgecoe, with another meandering text by Moore. As mentioned earlier above, the 1998 version contains an excellent photographic catalogue in color and miniature of 780 of Moore’s better known sculptures. Hedgecoe tends to seek “causal links” between Moore’s past and his works which some may find tenuous, and illustrates his viewpoint by adding, gratuitously, several of his own nude female photographs, as well as his own photographs of landscapes, trees, shells, etc. It is always a challenge when artists succumb to the public demand for commentary on their work (think of those interviews with Fellini!) and one cannot help but feel that Moore was being just a little bit mischievous with Hedgecoe. I suspect he welcomed the opportunity of another set of photographer’s eyes to showcase his work for those who could not physically access it. And in many ways, Hedgecoe’s books have achieved this, and do present many novel aspect of the sculptures which Moore’s photographs do not, and this endeavour spans no less than 30 years. My one caveat would be to avoid the text and stick to the photographs. Notwithstanding all of this, his books are well worth viewing.
Eric Neumann, The Archetypical World of Henry Moore, 1959: Neumann is universally referred to in Moore literature, but is probably the least read of all the books on Moore. Moore himself did not read beyond the first few pages, nor did Clark. Both were very wary of any attempt to explore the “unconscious” forces which produced great art, and that is understandable. I have touched on Neumann in my Resonator Notes. He remains the greatest poetical writer on Jung’s vision, and, if read in this context, is supremely moving to the intuitive personality. The notion of “archetypes and the collective unconscious” is a wonderful poetic idea, but cannot really be verified in any scientific way, and is open to all sorts of misinterpretations which have plagued Jungian debate for years. And yet, this particular book is a splendid portrayal of a great mind grappling with the experience of Henry Moore’s sculpture. No other artist has been credited with such an examination, and Moore, for all his skepticism, must have recognized this. It would be an interesting study to review Neumann’s selection of Moore’s works for photographic presentation and commentary. A thorough analysis of Neumann will have to await another day. For now, it is sufficient to make a few brief comments.
Neumann takes Sylvester [author of Tate Catalogue for a Moore Exhibition in 1951) to task several times (see pp.28, 51, 53) in reference to Moore’s comments on “the mystery of the hole – the mysterious fascination of caves in hillsides and cliffs”: “To this …Mr. Sylvester remarks in the psychologizing manner so popular today: ‘But its deepest meaning, of course, lies in its sexual symbolism’…This glib, ‘of course’, like the alleged ‘sexual symbolism’ in Moore and the ’poetic value of the hole’ must claim our attention because from such misunderstandings it may become clear what it is that makes Moore’s art archetypical and why the terminology of Mr. Sylvester, who so earnestly wants to be fair to Moore, goes so sadly astray on these crucial points.” (39). Neumann argues that in Moore’s sculptures “Their inner tactile aspect enables one to experience in a unique way the fascination of being led into the darkness, the changing of the body into a mysterious cavern, and of the whole figure into the Earth Mother. It is a magnificent and entirely new representation of the feminine archetype as woman and earth at once. To every unbiased observer who is capable of learning from experience, it is just the cavernous quality of these figures that demonstrates the transparent inadequacy of the statement ‘but its deepest meaning, of course, lies in its sexual symbolism’. The womb is completely emptied of all sexual significance…The dominant factor in the haptic experience of the child, to which Moore’s art reverts, is the peculiar hierarchy of magnitudes in which the subject feels small, dependent, and attached, and the mother’s body feels like a great world, the source of life and warmth.” (53-54). Neumann later takes Herbert Read to task, when he talks of the ‘weakness’ of Moore’s mining pictures. “They are ‘social documents’ of our everyday world, not archetypical visions of human beings in relation to earth. We would emphasize this in direct contrast to Herbert Read, who is inclined to derive Moore’s work in a personalistic, psychoanalytical manner from childhood memories of mining. The decisive phenomenon is that, in spite of the mining world of the father in which he grew up, the archetypical cave world of the mother nevertheless managed to assert itself.” (65). He concludes his remarks on these authors: “ Only when it is recognized that man’s psychic development depends on environmental influences only at certain critical periods of transition, like his physical development, but in general is directed by transpersonal factors known in analytical psychology as archetypes – only then will the false personalistic causality theory of psychoanalysis be superseded, and only then will there be an end to the often ridiculous search for biographical facts that are supposed to explain everything but in reality mean very little.” (68). No wonder art critics tend to shy away from Neumann! He concludes his study by arguing:”The birth of the feminine archetype in modern man signifies at the same time the development of human relatedness, of his social capacity, and the growing consciousness of the unity of mankind on earth. This feeling of human solidarity rests on the archetypical connection with the Great Mother from whom all life springs, the primary relationship which Moore has depicted over and over again.” (130). Again, this is wonderful poetry, but it is not for everyone! Neumann died prematurely in 1960, at age 55, just after the publication of this book. It would have been fascinating to have had his overview of Moore’s entire output which was to continue for another 28 years. This is a must read for Moore lovers who appreciate the poetic vision of Jung, but it remains a forbidding read for many others.
This book contains a wealth of excellent color photographs of Moore’s works with several articles of general interest. The most provocative article is “Moore Looking: Photography and the Presentation of Sculpture”, by Elizabeth Brown, where she argues that “the biggest obstacle to recuperating Moore’s reputation is his objectification of women.” (294). She quotes Sylvester’s argument that in Moore there is “a coincidence of landscape with oral and genital reference,” and then states: “Erich Neumann’s monograph, the one Moore snapped shut after scanning the first chapter, rejects a sexualized reading of these forms and ideas”, and quotes Neumann’s refutation of Sylvester, adding: “Methinks he protests too much. The inchoate mysteries of desire, the shifting notion of identity in relation to memories of birth and childhood, the trajectory of a developing sense of self, and the ways of consciousness is wrapped up in sexuality – all these questions seem far from simple or reductive. There remains a need for psychoanalytic investigation of Moore’s iconography and his development. One factor would probably be his relationship with his mother…” (295). She then goes on to observe: “These images evoke in most viewers a powerful desire to crawl inside, as if returning to the safety and comfort of the womb,” (295) which is almost a direct quote from Neumann which I cited above! One wonders if the author has actually read Neumann, or joins the legion of commentators who, like Moore, leave him aside after the first chapter. The issue of Moore’s use of holes which seemed to fascinate Sylvester is often “quasi-causally” related to cave and landscape paintings by Seurat, Monet and Corot, yet Moore’s “earliest known drawing” (Ag.1 HMF 16.1, watercolor,1916) is a sketch after Turner’s ‘Ulysses Deriding Polyphemus’ which contains a similar image to Seurat/Monet, but which is seldom referred to. These comments aside, Brown does make fascinating points about photography and culture which are particularly relevant to anyone seeking a closer encounter with Moore, but who has limited access to actual pieces of sculpture: “evidencing the rhythms of nature and the vitality of life in figures he had created represent an extended engagement between maker and object. It is an ideal version of the relationship he intends for his viewers. Occasionally, his photographs do just that.” (295). Recommended for its photographs (especially The Dallas Piece collection of photographs by Tom Jenkins (296-307).
This is another typical catalogue which contains 150 excellent color photographs of Moore’s works combined with various essays of varying quality and relevance. Lyndsey Stonebridge contributes an essay on “A Love of Beginnings: Henry Moore and Psychoanalysis”. She opens the essay with a quote from early Moore (1937) “There is no doubt a deep psychological explanation of the fascination of the hole.” (40), but when she repeats it she refers to Moore as “the artist who began by not looking at his mother’s face, but by rubbing her back.” (47). She then refers to Neumann’s words that “evoke mystery and profundity, yet slide off the surfaces of his sculpture; words that stick in the mind, or in the myth, but which feel sometimes uncomfortably apart from the art. ‘I suppose it could be explained as a ‘Mother complex’’, one can almost hear Moore reply tentatively, with characteristic generosity, but without having read the whole book.” (43). Herbert Read gets slightly less cavalier treatment: “If Read makes Moore mean too much and too little, this is not least because the same tendency is present in the work itself.” (45). She concludes by referring to the work of Frances Tustin, who has done work on autistic children. She quotes Tustin: “The trouble in writing about autism is that one has to think thoughts that, for the patient, have been unthinkable, and to find concepts for what were unconceptualized states.” She then concludes: “This, too, is the challenge of Moore to psychoanalysis. Faceless, his mother and child operate somewhere beyond sentiment and beyond, too, we might say, the romantic gaze. And this means too that there is a Moore who does not so much reconcile us to something lost, as challenge us to understand what it might mean to live on the very edge of perception and language.” (49).This may seem a slight overstatement, but it is a fascinating challenge to how we perceive the work of Moore. The advantage Neumann always has is that he speaks in poetry (“archetypes and collective unconscious”) while most other commentators tend to stick to ordinary language, and end up with the type of almost facile appeal to “turning back”, “mother’s back”, etc., which Stonebridge falls into when ostensibly debunking Neumann. But it is a provocative article for anyone who wants to search into Moore and psychoanalysis. (See also her article in Beckett and Russell, “Bombs, Birth and Trauma”, Henry Moore. Critical Essays, 2003, where she comments on Neumann’s reference to the Shelter Drawings”: “War is birth the wrong way round. Or rather, being born and being bombed here amount to pretty much the same thing. Neumann’s archetypicism is not unusual for its time (he is writing in the late 1950s), nor is the predicable way in which he universalises the figure of the mother (Moore’s, myth’s, the collective unconscious, the nation’s?). But for all his questionable archetypes, I suspect Neumann is responding to something that is suggested in Moore’s work itself as much as it is by the fantasies of the Jungian analyst.” (110-11). This demonstrates how little she understands Neumann’s concept of archetype. It also underlines the poetic response of Neumann to Moore; the fact that he chooses the imagery of archetypes does not detract from the poetic value of this approach, and underlines how refreshing Bronowski’s comments remain!).
There is also a brief note on “Elm” which provides 5 color photographs of the six elmwood carvings of Moore. These are different photographs from the ones used by Lichtenstein and thus provide an additional set of perspectives. The note also quotes Sylvester “commenting on its powerful sexuality” (referring to the 1939 elmwood). (203). So much for Neumann’s comments on Sylvester fixation! The book is richly illustrated and worth viewing for this reason.
Will Gohmann, The Art of Henry Moore, 1960:
This was one of the earliest books on Moore which provided adequate photographic plates of sculptures and drawings (a total of 209 illustrations, 12 in color) provided by Moore himself. Lichtenstern describes it as a “profound, and much read, monograph on Moore;” and that Grohmann “was convinced by Jung’s views on archetypes.” (2890; and notes that “the warm reception that greets Moore’s work in West Germany secured a wide readership for Will Grohmann’s richly illustrated book.” (416). It is thus a slightly dated book. This is a Grohmann who can argue “Moore’s psychological structure, in which nature in the shape of the collective unconscious stands next to spirit, vitality next to law…” (236); and that “ a psychic constitution like Moore’s is unalterable.” (234). Again, the fact that Moore would live another 36 years limits the scope of the book, despite the influence it had in its day. Clearly, Lichtenstern has real respect for Grohmann’s views, as she has for Neumann’s, neither of whom are harshly treated in her splendid book. The book is of historical interest, and for those who have some sympathy for Jung’s notion of archetypes, etc.
This is a must read for anyone interested in Moore and who has some appreciation for Clark. Like everything Clark did, this is a highly personal viewpoint: “Some time ago, with the approval of Henry Moore, I was asked to wrote an introduction to a selection of his drawings. I gladly accepted, but when I began to go through the five hundred or so photographs from which the reproductions were to be chosen I realized that a short introduction to such a large volume would be disproportionate and unhelpful. After several months spent in turning over these photographs, and trying to give them some rational order, I cut them down to about two hundred and fifty and tried to divide the drawings into ten categories, which then could be arranged chronologically, although with inevitable overlaps. This is the plan of the present book. Like all classifications it involves a few omissions, and may sometimes seem rather forced. However, I believe that it will give the reader a better idea of how Moore’s ideas developed than would a mechanical arrangement by date or subject [Which is precisely what Ann Garrould would do in her Henry Moore Drawings, 1988, with its 250 photographs,168 in color; an excellent complement to Clark nevertheless]…..I have avoided deep psychological explanations, partly because I am not qualified to make them, partly because Moore himself dislikes them. As far as possible, I have talked about the actual drawings and not about the motives behind them.” (7). Recommended to all admirers of Moore and of Clark!
This was a catalogue for a Tate exhibition, most of which has been incorporated into the six volume Catalogue Raisonne referred to as AG/HMF; as have the salient points from his 1984 publication based on his PhD dissertation. He also produced an excellent Henry Moore Remembered. The Collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, 1987; and Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, 2002, which is a compendium of Moore’s varies writings and speeches, etc. Wilkinson remains another of the loyal supporters of Moore whose friendly association with Moore lasted many years. A student at the Courtland Institute, Wilkinson choose Moore’s drawings as the topic for his PhD dissertation, and spent a great deal of time at Hoglands, becoming almost one of the family. It had been understood that, once his thesis had been accepted, Wilkinson would produce a book, but in the interim, Moore was asked to approach Clark to write some sort of introduction. Clark, as we have seen, got completely caught up in the idea, and took over the project.. If Wilkinson felt betrayed or disappointed, he never seems to have shown it, and seems to have accepted Clark’s inevitability. When the Tate debate over Moore’s proposed bequeath of his works to the nation (a la Turner) boiled up, it was suggested to Moore that he might consider donating some work to the Art Gallery of Ontario, which would provide a permanent gallery for such donations. (The Archer had just been installed in Toronto’s City Square). In the subsequent negotiations, no less a figure than Anthony Blunt (subsequently condemned as a Soviet spy connected with Philby) proposed that Wilkinson should liaise directly with Moore on the final selection of the pieces to be donated. This he did, with significant success, and the AGO owes him a great deal of gratitude for all of his efforts at that time, and in the years following when he curated the Moore Collection. His work on the drawings has been largely superseded, but his catalogue of the Moore Collection at AGO is superb.
This is an interesting essay. Sylvester’s comments on Moore’s creation of holes in his sculpture is referred to as a “silly psychological interpretation” and that “he should have known better.” (78). Fuller’s main argument is that “Moore owed more to the tradition of Ruskin than to that of Wyndham Lewis…Moore’s vision involved as much resistance to, as acceptance of, modernity.” (57). This is not required reading, but does represent one of many possible interpretations of Moore’s work.
This book is of interest to those who can access some of Moore’s work which is available only in the original plasters used for bronze castings, and which have been preserved. The biggest public collection of such plasters is in Toronto’s AGO. There is great controversy over the value of these plasters, as there is over Moore’s later grand scale bronzes cast from polyethylene moulds. This book explores how Moore evolved into plasters, away from “direct carving”, and discusses the methods Moore and hs assistants used to create them. Regardless of personal taste (bronze versus plaster) these plasters remain exact copies of the bronzes, and the viewer can access a similar experience when “walking around” them.
This is an outstanding book, containing an excellent Foreword by K. Clark, with 495 photographs in black and while and 78 in color. It presents Finn’s photographs of Moore’s sculpture in natural settings from 16 different countries and 50 cities. Finn provides terse descriptive text, and Moore’s comments are interspersed throughout. Clark considers Finn to be “a photographer of genius” (15), and his photographs are magnificent. This book illustrates the global reach of Moore’s work, and how remarkably apt it is for public showing, both in cities and landscapes. It is also another example of how Moore was able to attract admirers from all walks of life who went to great lengths to promote his work.
Finn had produced a previous masterpiece of book publishing in his As the Eye Moves: A Sculpture by Henry Moore, 1968. Donald Hall contributed some poetic verse for the book, and Finn presents 150 different photographic perspectives on Moore’s sculpture, Bridge-Prop. Finn had taken delivery of number 6/6 at his house in New Rochelle in 1967. [He subsequently donated the sculpture to Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, and included photographs of this piece in its new location in his 1976 volume]. Moore’s comments were included: “If people could look at this book and read the text before they see the sculpture, I believe they would find a great deal more to see than they ordinarily do.” (10). Hall, another great admirer of Moore, provides poetic verse. He argues in his Foreword that : “this book is utilitarian – it educates the eye to look at sculpture.” (14) Later he suggests: “As you live with her, in the photographs of this book, you will see the infinite shapes that combine to make her shape. You will learn ways of looking at sculpture.” (17). The personification of the bronze is revealing, as is the poetic text created for the book. Not everyone will find this text helpful: poetry does not educate the eye the way photography does, but it is an example, among so many, of two creative people collaborating in an artistic manner to present Moore’s work to a broader public so that more people can enjoy the aesthetic experience they personally access when they “walk around” a Moore sculpture. As such, these two books by Finn are highly recommended.
Also recommended for its perspective on Irina’s role in creating ideal locations for Moore’s later works in their ever extending garden, is Stephen Spender, In Irina’s Garden with Henry Moore’s Sculpture; Photographs by D. Finn, 1986. Irina provides very terse “reminiscences”, and Spender writes urbanely about his friendship, but it is Finn’s photographs of the garden and the cultures which intrigues. Recommended if only for sentimental reasons.
I found the related book by, Henry Seldis, Henry Moore in America, 1973 to be slightly gossipy with rather ordinary photographs poorly reproduced. Not really recommended.
A beautifully produced book Henry Moore Animals, text by W. J. Strachan, 1983 brings together a selection of Moore’s sculptures and drawings of animals in 150 photographs, shot by Moore, 21 of which are in color, and spanning the years 1921-82. This clearly a work of devotion and intended for the aficionado.
An excellent compilation of Moore’s work, presented in 211 very good color photographs (taken by Henry Moore Foundation) including drawings, maquettes and larger sculptures, is Henry Moore. L’atelier, Musee Rodin, 2011. Written in French, there are some interesting French perspectives on Moore in articles by Rinuy and Le Nouene. The value of this book is the specific selections of Moore’s work made for this exhibition, which is quite different from the usual catalogue content. For the aficionado.
G. Shakerley and S. Spender, Henry Moore. Sculptures in Landscape, 1978: This book was the brainchild of J.M. Stenersens, a Norwegian publisher and art collector, who wanted to produce a book featuring Moore’s sculpture “out of doors”. Shakerley, a prominent British photographer already involved in working with Moore on photographing The Shelter Drawings, was asked to visit 16 countries to photograph 80 works in “natural landscapes”. (5). Moore provided a one-pager in which he stated “there is no background to sculpture better than the sky.” (9). And Stephen Spender, a very old friend of Moore’s (they first met in 1934), wrote a friendly introductory note on Moore. Once again, these color photographs are magnificent. Highly recommended.
YouTube Documentaries: While of interest, I have been disappointed in the quality of the various documentaries on Moore. They are of general interest, but none of them would induce me to actually “walk around” a Moore sculpture the way Moore’s or Finn’s photographs do.
The literature on Moore is vast, and I have included only those works which I have found to be most relevant and which are written in English. For someone first approaching Moore, I would recommend Finn, As the Eye Moves, followed by his Henry Moore. Sculpture and Environment. The most comprehensive book on Moore, and the one most highly recommended is Lichtenstern. Read remains of historical interest, and Clark on the drawings is still a necessary read.