- Henry Moore
- RECLINING FIGURE
- inscribed Moore, numbered 7/9 and inscribed Morris Singer Founders London
Chicago, Chicago International Art Exhibition, 1984
La Jolla, Tasende Gallery, Sculpture for Open Space, 1985, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
La Jolla, Tasende Gallery, 10th Anniversary Exhibition, 1989
Alan Bowness (ed.), Henry Moore, Complete Sculpture, 1980-86, London, 1988, vol. 6, no. 677a, illustrations of another cast p. 31 & pls. 26-28
David Mitchinson (ed.), Celebrating Henry Moore, Works from the Collection of the Henry Moore Foundation, London, 1998, no. 246, illustration in colour of another cast p. 319
The subject of the reclining figure, initially inspired by Mexican sculpture and explored in this monumental work, was one of Moore's chief preoccupations throughout his long career. He has commented that 'from the very beginning the reclining figure has been my main theme. The first one I made was around 1924, and probably more than half of my sculptures since then have been reclining figures' (quoted in John Hedgecoe (ed.), Henry Moore, London, 1968, p. 151). David Sylvester described the genre in a manner particularly relevant to this sculpture: 'They are made to look as if they themselves had been shaped by nature's energy. They seem to be weathered, eroded, tunnelled-into by the action of wind and water. The first time Moore published his thoughts about art, he wrote that the sculpture which moved him most gave out "something of the energy and power of great mountains" [...] Moore's reclining figures are not supine; they prop themselves up, are potentially active. Hence the affinity with river-gods; the idea is not simply that of a body subjected to the flow of nature's forces but of one in which those forces are harnessed' (D. Sylvester, Henry Moore, New York & London, 1968, p. 5).
While Moore was working on his Shelter Drawings during the Second World War he became increasingly absorbed in the manner in which drapery could be made to denote sculptural volume. In part the enormous sculptural effects that could be achieved by draped figures had been inspired by Classical art, particularly some of the Parthenon figures. Moore noted that the shelter drawings caused him to look at and use drapery. Quoting Moore, David Sylvester considers drapery – accentuated in the present work around the figure's legs – a form of contour making which assists in the successful integration of the sculpture into its surrounding landscape. Moore uses 'the folds to create a variant of the metaphor of the figures as a landscape [...] to connect the contrasts of sizes of folds, here small, fine and delicate, in other places big and heavy, with the form of mountains, which are the crinkled skin of the earth' (ibid., p. 109).
For Moore, the use of drapery emphasised the tension of the covered form. Over time he began to treat drapery itself as an element formed by highlighting the curves and ruffles of the blanket. In this way, 'The wrinkles and crinkles of the drapery at one stage began to remind me in close-up of mountain ranges' (J. Hedgecoe (ed.), op. cit., p. 204). Moore has almost come full circle in his art and by 1982 the hills and crags represented by his early reclining figures are now linked to the curved solidity of his later sculpture.
Other casts of this work are at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo in Caracas and the Henry Moore Foundation in England.
Fig. 1, Henry Moore with his monumental sculpture. Photographed by John Hedgecoe