Henry Moore: On Being a Sculptor (Artists Writings)


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When you think about memorials to the war-dead — both here and in Russia — they are such an enormously important part of our national consciousness, a public expression of it.


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What is remarkable about those drawings is that they make something intrinsically private and personal into something public, without sacrificing the sense of witnessing something precious and intimate. I feel the same is true about the family groups. I think that they have often been misunderstood. But in a way, families are again an intimate grouping that only those within it really know and understand, and yet here they are again being made public, but with all their small gestures intact, so that they preserve their intimacy — and individuality.

When you look at the little terracottas — the faces, every single gesture such as the way their hands are — they are actually very realistic, and they express pain, or resignation, or perseverance rather than expressionism. AR: When you were growing up, did you model for your father — for instance, as the child in his mother-and-child sculptures? MM: Yes.

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There are particular works which are of me in the bath, or me doing my homework, or me sitting and reading, or in a dress or whatever, and there are other works where, clearly, the family group is the subject matter. Yet Henry Moore was able to give a sense of possibility to the family. Family values, as we say. MM: Well, he had a enormous interest in the formal properties of art, and how they could be drawn on to express things which might be difficult to say. In a way, I think he probably found it much more accessible than we do now.

And I think I am in those groupings. He suddenly started to do again these very intimate, personal works. Were you conscious, when you were growing up, of his being a very successful artist? MM: Oh, yes, yes. Our house was open to the public all the time. I was tremendously aware, as was my mother, that we were a kind of machine. MM: We were on view as well, though not overtly. For instance, from the moment that we all had breakfast together and he went off to the studio, we were a family on display.

Henry Moore drawings at Christies

AR: And how did your father, who famously never accepted honours — never became Sir Henry Moore, or Lord Henry Moore — but always stood for integrity, and retained a down-to-earth plainness throughout his life, deal with this huge public acclaim? MM: I think my mother was enormously important to him in that, and he would often acknowledge how essential she was to him in keeping him focused.

He loved the idea that he could get her anything, but in fact they lived incredibly modestly. AR: They did have some beautiful works of art though. You mentioned Bellini earlier, but I remember seeing a painting by Courbet in the house. What other art did he admire? When I was very small, the house was largely furnished with his own textiles. When I was about twelve, we had a new wing built onto the house, which had one large sitting room, so he could see visitors with all the things he loved around him.

He had this game of listing his top ten artists, and many of those eventually made their way into his collection. He would also buy the work of artists he especially loved — Gustave Dore, for example — for the way they used light and shade to make solid form. AR: What about his interests in Mexican and Mayan art? Did you travel with him to Mexico? MM: I wish I had. I remember when he went to Mexico, it was I was very young and my mother and I both stayed at home.

My mother had a fabulous eye, too. AR: Do you think that the female figures could also have been influenced by your mother?

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They have a sort of distilled calmness to them. Or was that entirely the result of the formal investigations he was making? MM: I think she might have been like that, because when I knew her, she was rather like a cat — very quiet, rather solitary, and sometimes rather withdrawn. When you see photos of her at openings such as the great show in Florence, at the Forte di Belvedere in , you can see my father sitting there amongst the dignitaries and rows of press, with lots of other people sitting near him, and my mother is sitting behind, very still and apart and quiet.

When she was young, and he used her as his model, she was a woman of wonderfully rounded proportions. She was quite petite, but also quite monumental.

Henry Moore's Exhibition in Yugoslavia, 1955

MM: Yes, she talked to him a lot about his work. Tony Caro refers to her as his enormous support. She looked after the house, she looked after everything else, and he was able to do what he was doing and establish a routine. AR: And do you remember the younger sculptors, such as Tony Caro, who were his assistants, and pupils? MM: Yes, yes. It was fairly close to London, and when a house came up for sale, he liked it precisely because it was so unimposing, so undramatic.

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The whole point was that, when he went into his little studio, or his drawing studio, or his maquette studio, there was no-one to disturb him in there, and no-one came in except me and my mother. I used to be in those studios for hours as a child. MM: Just making little animals beside him, or making a little angel, you know: making something on a little table. MM: I have got some of them still, wonderfully painted kind of religious pieces, you know, very good. I think that the studio was really like going inside his head.


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What he had in front of him was a vocabulary of forms that he drew on from inside his head. AR: So, did he develop that vocabulary before he started to live in Much Hadham? Henry Moore's writings constitute a vivid and comprehensive record of his life and work, of the influences that shaped his vision, and of his reactions to the work of other artists, periods, and cultures.

Spanning some seventy years, Moore's writings and conversations are much more than documentary records of his life and times: they have considerable literary merit in their own right. This fascinating collection of Moore's written and spoken words is the most comprehensive yet compiled, and contains much previously unpublished material. It includes over illustrations: photographs of the sculptures, drawings and prints discussed in the text, illustrations of works by other artists, and photographs of the sculptor and his environment at various stages of his life.

Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations completes and complements the catalogues of his sculpture, drawings, and prints. Soft cover. Some rubbing or spotting to the rear cover edges not affecting interior; light shelf wear Text is clean. A book collecting the great sculptor Henry Moore's says and writings on sculpture. Edited with an Itroduction by Philip James. Items related to Henry Moore on sculpture: A collection of the sculptor's Henry Moore on sculpture: A collection of the sculptor's writings and spoken words;. Henry Moore.

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