Lot 16
  • 16

Henry Moore, O.M., C.H.

Estimate
60,000 - 80,000 GBP
Sold
81,250 GBP
bidding is closed

Description

  • Henry Moore, O.M., C.H.
  • Head
  • signed and numbered 2/6
  • bronze
  • height (including bronze base): 31.5cm.; 12½in.
  • Conceived circa 1964, and cast in 1982, the present work is number 2 from the edition of 6.

Provenance

Galerie Welz, Salzburg, where acquired by the previous owner, 19th September 1994, and thence by descent to the present owner

Exhibited

Salzburg, Galerie Welz, Henry Moore, Bronzen und Graphik, 1994, cat. no.14;
Collegeville, Pennsylvania, Ursinus College, Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art, A Passion for Art: Selections from the Berman Collection, 1989, illustrated p.46 (another cast).

Literature

Alan Bowness (ed.), Henry Moore Complete Sculpture, 1980-86, Vol. 6, London, 1999, cat. no.522d, illustrated p.32, pl.30 and 31 (another cast).

Catalogue Note

'Keep ever prominent the world tradition / the big view of sculpture...'
Henry Moore, 1926
(Henry Moore Sketch book, facsimile edition, reproduced by Daniel Jacomet and Cie, Paris, published by Ganymede Original Editions, in association with Fischer Fine Art, 1976, recto of first leaf)

The human form was a life-long obsession for Henry Moore. In Head, conceived in the early 1960s, his many years of looking and absorbing from life as well as from sculpture through history and the non-western world, are effortlessly synthesized into an elegant yet organic silhouette with minimalist markings that recall the surreal. Moore had famously visited the British Museum once a week from October 1921 during his student days at the Royal College of Art. Drawn instantly to the sculpture from other worlds in different times, their collection was a vital influence that informed his entire career and he later became a collector of African and Oceanic sculpture. In the years following the devastation of WW1, it is not surprising that he was drawn to the sculpture from worlds untainted by the machine age; Moore was himself one of only 52 out of 400 to survive from his battalion and in 1917 was gassed at the Battle of Cambrai. This return to an ancient influence reflected a broader tendency throughout Europe at the time, conscious or unconscious, of a so-called 'rappel à l'ordre' - the rejection of the machine age and any associated visual language such as Vorticism and Futurism developed during the years leading up to the First World War. 

The pared down shape and elongated nose of Head undoubtedly point to the influence of early Mexican sculpture and he was drawn to masks such as the British Museum’s 14th century Aztec example of Xipe Totec: ‘Mexican sculpture, as soon as I found it, seemed to me true and right, perhaps because I at once hit on similarities in it with some eleventh-century carvings I had seen as a boy on Yorkshire churches. Its ‘stoniness’, by which I mean its truth to material, its tremendous power without loss of sensitiveness, its astonishing variety and fertility of form-invention and its approach to a full three-dimensional conception of form, make it unsurpassed in my opinion by any other period of stone sculpture’ (Moore, 1941, quoted in Philip James, ed., Henry Moore on Sculpture, Macdonald, 1966, p.159).

The tactile surface and organic simplicity of the silhouette also highlights another of his critical sources - the pebbles, flints and stones, shaped by thousands of years of weathering that he found and collected from walks on the beach and displayed in his studio: ‘Although it is the human figure which interests me most deeply, I have always paid great attention to natural forms, such as bones, shells, and pebbles, etc. Sometimes for several years running I have been to the same part of the sea-shore – but each year a new shape of pebble has caught my eye, which the year before, though it was there in hundreds, I never saw. Out of the millions of pebbles passed in walking along the shore, I choose out to see with excitement only those which fit in with my existing form-interest at the time. A different thing happens if I sit down and examine a handful one by one I may then extend my form-experience more, by giving my mind time to become conditioned to a new shape…’ (Moore, 1937, ibid., p.64).
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