Henry Moore OM, CH

Animal Head

1951

On display at Tate Britain

Artist
Henry Moore OM, CH 1898–1986
Medium
Plaster
Dimensions
Object: 270 x 216 x 295 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the artist 1978
Reference
T02271

Display caption

Moore tended to find inspiration for his work in natural forms. Although cast in plaster, this sculpture has the appearance of a pebble or piece of worn bone, an indefinable organic form that takes on the identity of some hybrid animal. The ghostly, grotesque quality of Animal Head, like other works by Moore, carries connotations of decay and mortality.

Gallery label, September 2016

Catalogue entry

Entry

Animal Head 1951 is a sculpture of an animal’s head made in off-white plaster mounted on a rectangular wooden base spray-painted in satin black. Although it does not represent the head of a specific animal it is loosely reminiscent of a horse’s, cow’s or sheep’s head. The presence of holes that run through the plaster and its off-white surface colour give the impression that the head may represent a skull.

The head appears to be balanced on a relatively small area at the base of the neck and thus seems to be front-heavy (fig.1). From the neck, the back of the sculpture curves outwards and upwards to the top of the head, which projects forwards horizontally before dipping to a snout. At the front of the snout is a shallow recess that may denote a nostril (fig.2). Below the snout is a deeper hollow with rounded edges denoting the mouth. The inside of the mouth has been coloured with a dark brown pigment to emphasise the sense of internal depth (fig.3). The thick lower jaw or mandible extends back towards the neck in parallel with the base.

From the back of the head can be seen two holes of uneven size that run all the way through the plaster (fig.4). While the hole that can be seen on the right side of the head resembles an eye socket (see fig.1), the hole that penetrates the left side does not. Instead, on the left side an eye socket is suggested by another deep rounded recess that is positioned half-way down the length of the head (fig.5). These asymmetrical features reveal that Moore was not concerned with representing a real animal head with anatomical accuracy.

Alice Correia
February 2013

Notes

1
Henry Moore cited in Donald Hall, ‘Henry Moore: An Interview by Donald Hall’, Horizon, November 1960, p.113, reprinted in Alan Wilkinson (ed.), Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, Aldershot 2002, p.226.
2
Henry Moore cited in John Hedgecoe (ed.), Henry Moore, London 1968, p.300.
3
Henry Moore cited in John Hedgecoe (ed.), Henry Moore: My Ideas, Inspiration and Life as an Artist, London 1986, p.159.
4
Henry Moore cited in Henry J. Seldis, Henry Moore in America, New York 1973, p.222.
5
Ibid., pp.222–3.
6
Alan G. Wilkinson, Henry Moore Remembered: The Collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, Toronto 1987, p.18.
7
Anita Feldman, ‘Moore: The Plasters’, in Anita Feldman and Malcolm Woodward, Henry Moore: Plasters, London 2011, pp.12, 19.
8
Ibid., p.11.
9
Ibid., p.17.
10
Erich Neumann, The Archetypal World of Henry Moore, London 1959, p.120.
11
Henry Moore, ‘Statement for Unit One’, in Herbert Read (ed.), Unit One: The Modern Movement in English Architecture, Painting and Sculpture, London 1934, pp.29–30, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.192.
12
Henry Moore, ‘A Sculptor Speaks’, Listener, 18 August 1937, pp.338–40, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.195.
13
Herbert Read, Henry Moore: Sculptor, London 1934, p.13.
14
Moore 1934, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.192.
15
Alan Wilkinson, ‘Animal Head, Lot 62’, British & Irish Art Auction: Sale 7595, sales catalogue, Christie’s, London 2008, http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/sculptures-statues-figures/henry-moore-om-ch-animal-head-5088887-details.aspx?pos=3&intObjectID=5088887&sid=&page=5, accessed 5 February 2013.
16
This developmental sequence is based on the way in which these drawings are presented in the artist’s catalogue raisionné, where Animal Studies c.1950 is listed before Animal Heads c.1950. See Ann Garrould (ed.), Henry Moore. Volume 4: Complete Drawings 1950–76, London 2003, p.20.
17
Neumann 1959, p.120.
18
Reinhard Rudolph, ‘Animal Head, 1951’, in David Mitchinson (ed.), Celebrating Moore: Works From the Collection of the Henry Moore Foundation, London 2006, p.231.
19
Henry Moore cited in James Johnson Sweeny, ‘Henry Moore’, Partisan Review, March–April 1947, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.44.
20
Ibid., p.45.
21
Barbara Braun, Pre-Columbian Art and the Post-Columbian World: Ancient American Sources of Modern Art, New York 2000, p.122.
22
W.J. Strachan, Henry Moore: Animals, London 1983, p.127.
23
Ibid., p.127.
24
Wilkinson 2008, accessed 5 February 2013.
25
Rudolph 2006, p.232.
26
See ‘Note on the Henry Moore Gift’, 1978, Tate Public Records TG 4/6/10/4.
27
These figures are based on those listed in a memo in the records for the exhibition. See Tate Public Records TG 92/344/2.
28
Norman Reid, letter to Mary Danowski, 31 August 1978, Tate Public Records TG 4/6/10/4.

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