Artwork Description / Detail
Henry Spencer Moore was one of the most important British artists of the twentieth century and arguably the most internationally celebrated sculptor of the period. Moore is best known for his semi-abstract monumental bronze sculptures. He also showed a great interest in drawing as an activity independent of sculpture. His forms usually focused on the abstractions of the human figure, typically depicting a mother-and-child or reclining figures.
Moore was born in Castleford, a small mining town in Yorkshire, on the 30th of July 1898. After training to be a teacher and serving in the British Army during the Great War (1914 – 1918), Moore was awarded an ex-serviceman’s grant. He used this grant to enrol at the Leeds School of Art (1919), becoming their first sculpture student. There he met and was strongly influenced by fellow artist Barbara Hepworth.
Moore went on to study the Royal College of Art, London, after receiving a scholarship in 1921. Moore later taught at the College and met Irina Radetsky, whom he married in 1929. In 1928 Moore received his first public commission, West Wind, from the London Underground.
Numerous commissions and exhibitions in the 1930s enabled Moore’s reputation as a leading avant-garde artist to grow, but in 1939 war broke out again. Moore was recruited as an official war artist and produced his now famous drawings of people sheltering in the London Underground during the Blitz. In September 1940, the Moore’s London flat was damaged by bombing and the couple moved to Perry Green, Hertfordshire. In 1948 Moore was awarded the International Sculpture Prize at the 24th Venice Biennale. International success characterised Moore’s career from the 1950s onward. In 1977 he established the Henry Moore Foundation to encourage wider enjoyment and opportunities in the arts.
The founding principal of Moore’s artistic style was direct carving, something he derived not only from European modernism, but also from non-Western art. He abandoned the process of modelling (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 liked the fierce involvement direct carving brought with materials such as wood and stone.
During his lifetime, Moore became synonymous with modern sculpture in England, America and beyond. He continued working in sculpture, drawing, printmaking and textile design until his death in 1986.