Henry Moore

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Moore in 1975.

Henry Moore OM CH FBA (30 July 189831 August 1986) was an English artist and sculptor, best known for his abstract monumental bronzes, which can be seen in many places around the world as public works of art.


  • The observation of nature is part of an artist's life, it enlarges his form-knowledge, keeps him fresh and from working only by formula, and feeds inspiration
    • Henry Moore, ‎Sir Herbert Edward Read, ‎David Sylvester (1957) Henry Moore: 1921-1948, p. xxxi
  • When I was offered the site near the House of Lords... I liked the place so much that I didn't bother to go and see an alternative site in Hyde Park — one lonely sculpture can be lost in a large park. The House of Lords site is quite different. It is next to a path where people walk and it has a few seats where they can sit and contemplate it.
    • Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, Tate Gallery Catalogues: The Modern British Paintings, drawings and Sculpture, Volume II (Oldbourne Press, London, 1964), p. 481 [1]
    • Concerning the placement of his large sculpture Knife Edge – Two Piece, 1962, near the House of Lords.
  • All art should have a certain mystery and should make demands on the spectator. Giving a sculpture or a drawing too explicit a title takes away part of that mystery so that the spectator moves on to the next object, making no effort to ponder the meaning of what he has just seen. Everyone thinks that he or she looks but they don't really, you know.
  • There is one quality I find in all the artists I admire most - men like Masaccio, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Cezanne. I mean a disturbing element, a distortion, giving evidence of a struggle of some sort.
    • In: Henry Moore, ‎Alan G. Wilkinson (2002) Henry Moore-- Writings and Conversations. p. 117
  • The creative habit is like a drug. The particular obsession changes, but the excitement, the thrill of your creation lasts.
    • Quoted in: Eric Maisel, ‎Ann Maisel (2010) Brainstorm: Harnessing the Power of Productive Obsessions. p. 95

The sculptor speaks (1937)[edit]

Henry Moore by Lothar Wolleh (detail)

The sculptor speaks (1937), as quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock -, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, translation Daphne Woodward.

  • Since the Gothic, European sculpture had become overgrown with moss, weeds – all sorts of surface excrescences which completely concealed shape. It has been Brancusi’s special mission to get rid of this overgrowth, and make us once more shape-conscious. To do this he has had to concentrate on very simple direct shapes, to keep his sculpture, as it were, one-cylindered, to refine and polish a single shape to a degree almost too precious... it may now be no longer necessary to close down and restrict sculpture to the single form unit. We can now begin to open out. To relate and combine together several forms of varied sizes, sections, and directions into one organic whole.
    • p. 250
  • 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 seashore – 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... Pebbles show Nature’s way of working stone. Some of the pebbles I pick up have holes right through them... A piece of stone can have (for the sculptor, fh) a hole through it and not be weakened – if the hole is of a studied size, shape and direction. On the principle of the arch, it can remain just as strong.
    • pp. 250-251
  • The first hole made through a piece of stone is a revelation. The hole connects one side to the other, making it immediately more three-dimensional. A hole can itself have as much shape-meaning as a solid mass. Sculpture in air is possible, where the stone contains only the hole, which is the intended and considered form. The mystery of the hole – the mysterious fascination of caves in hill sides and cliffs.
    • p. 251
  • Yet actual physical size has an emotional meaning. We relate everything to our own size, and our emotional response to size is controlled by the fact that men on the average are between five and six feet high.. ..If practical considerations allowed me, cost of material, of transport, etc., I should like to work on large carvings more often than I do. The average in-between size does not disconnect an idea enough from prosaic everyday life. The very small or the very big (sculpture, fh) takes on an added size emotion.
    • p. 253
  • Recently I have been working in the country, where, carving in the open air, I find sculpture more natural than in a London studio, but it needs bigger dimensions. A large piece of stone or wood placed almost anywhere at random in a field, orchard, or garden, immediately looks right and inspiring.
    • p. 254
  • The violent quarrel between the abstractionists and the surrealists seems to me quite unnecessary. All good art has contained both abstract and surrealist elements, just as it has contained both classical and romantic elements – order and surprise, intellect and imagination, conscious and unconscious. Both sides of the artist’s personality must play their part. And I think the first inception of a painting or a sculpture may begin from either end.
    • pp. 254-255
  • As far as my own experience is concerned, I sometimes begin a drawing with no preconceived problem to solve, with only the desire to use pencil on paper, and make lines, tones, and shapes with no conscious aim; bur as my mind takes in what is so produced, a point arrives where some idea becomes conscious and crystallizes, and then a control and ordering begin to take place.
    • p. 255

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