Moore! Moore! Moore! Henry Moore and Sculpture

March 3 - August 31, 2021
Palm Desert, CA



“I have found the principles of form and rhythm from the study of natural objects… pebbles and rocks show nature’s way of working stone.” – Henry Moore

Heather James Fine Art presents a virtual exhibition of works by Henry Moore, one of the most influential British sculptors of the 20th century. His works compel us to consider the boundaries of modernity and of sculpture. While his figurative sculptures pushed the limits of modernity, there is a vein of classicism that runs through his work.

We must then ask ourselves, does his work represent a radical transformation or a continuation of classical sculpture. Even within his own body of work, there is a wide range of figuration. Compare “Family Group” from 1945 with “Reclining Figure: Circle” from 1983. On the one hand, Moore has abstracted the body to its breaking point and yet, the later work still references the reclining nudes of classical antiquity. Some, like “Two Seated Figures Against Wall” also reference more ancient sculptures like the seated figures of ancient Egypt.

The exhibition spans a large range of his career from his rise to international fame in the 1940s to his late career in the 1980s. After World War II, with his representation of Britain at the Venice Biennale and participation in the landmark Festival of Britain, Moore’s sculptures represented a return to an optimistic humanism in the face of destructive totalitarianism and fascism.

While the Abstract Expressionists in the U.S. processed the trauma of war through dynamic action, Moore’s abstractions returned a calm focus onto the human body. There is a gentle touch to his abstraction, building off universal themes. Whether in his “Family Group” or in the seated figures, the viewer’s mind is transported to these shared experiences, the abstraction helping to make the imagery universal. Moore notes, “Of course an artist uses experiences he’s had in life. Such an experience in my life was the birth of my daughter Mary, which re-invoked in my sculpture my Mother and Child theme. A new experience can bring to the surface something deep in one’s mind.”

Complementing the group of sculptures are drawings showing his process and his ability carve out sensual and sinuous shapes in both two and three dimensions. The viewer can observe how Moore considered form from multiple perspectives.

Both the works on paper and in bronze reflect his inspiration in organic forms and matter. From bones to stones, shells to wood, Moore utilized their shapes and even their texture in his sculpture. Moore stated, “Bones are the inside structure that nature uses for both lightness and strength… so in bones you can find the principles which can be very important in sculpture.”

Not just a British artist, Moore’s work found popularity around the world. By the 1970s, Moore estimated that over three-fourths of his work was in the U.S.