Henry Moore OM, CH Helmet Head No. 1 1950

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Artwork details

Artist
Title
Helmet Head No. 1
Date 1950
Medium Bronze
Dimensions Object: 400 x 355 x 300 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1960
Reference
T00388
On display at Tate Britain

Catalogue entry

Standfirst
This bronze sculpture was cast in 1960 from a lead version originally made in 1950. It was the first in a series of works that addressed the theme of protection through the form of a militaristic helmet. Most critics have interpreted Helmet Head No.1 with reference to the Second World War, but it may also have been informed by Moore’s experiences of fighting in the trenches during the First World War.
Text
Helmet Head No.1 consists of a hollow, loosely cylindrical form capped by a shallow dome, inside which a conical form stands vertically on its circular base pointing up to the interior ceiling of the dome. Both elements are cast in bronze and are mounted separately on a wooden base.
Henry Moore ''Helmet Head No.1'' 1950, cast 1960
Fig.1
Henry Moore
Helmet Head No.1 1950, cast 1960
© The Henry Moore Foundation, All Rights Reserved, DACS 2014
Henry Moore ''Helmet Head No.1'' 1950, cast 1960
Fig.2
Henry Moore
Helmet Head No.1 1950, cast 1960 Rear view
© The Henry Moore Foundation, All Rights Reserved, DACS 2014


As the title implies, the shape of the outer form resembles a helmet, with a wide, loosely rectangular opening with curved corners at the front. This opening extends from the very bottom of the sculpture across a third of the circumference, up to approximately three-quarters of its height, terminating just below the curve of the dome at the top (fig.1). The sides of the helmet curve inwards slightly just above the base before curving outwards into the dome, while the back of the helmet extends continuously from the apex of the dome down to the base, but is punctured by two irregular shaped openings that have been cut through the surface at around the same point that the sides curve inwards (fig.2). These two five-sided openings, which are made of straight and curved edges, are the only irregular shapes in what is otherwise a symmetrical design. When viewed from the back, the opening on the right, which is the shorter and wider of the two, is in fact the same shape as the left-hand opening but rotated at ninety degrees. Cut into the surface of the central bridge separating these two openings is a pattern consisting of three horizontal, parallel lines positioned just above a triangle. Two small, tubular nodules appear on the upper surface of the helmet towards the front, while in the same position on the back of the helmet are two round holes.

Origins and fabrication

Context and interpretation

Acquisition and exhibition

Alice Correia
November 2013

1
Henry Moore in conversation with David Mitchinson, 1980, printed in Alan Wilkinson (ed.), Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, London 2002, p.213.
2
Alan Ingham, ‘Henry Moore: An Appreciation’, Art and Australia, vol.25, no.3, Autumn 1987, p.338.
3
Herbert Read, Henry Moore: A Study of His Life and Work, London 1965, p.177.
4
Henry Moore cited in Donald Hall, ‘Henry Moore: An Interview by Donald Hall’, Horizon, November 1960, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.232.
5
Bernard Meadows cited in Wilkinson 2002, p.235 note 27.
6
Henry Moore, letter to Martin Butlin, 13 April 1961, Tate Artist Catalogue File, Henry Moore, A23942.
7
Henry Moore, letter to Harry Fischer, 29 April 1969, Henry Moore Foundation Archive.
8
Ibid.
9
Ibid.
10
Ibid.
12
For an explanatory video on lost wax casting see http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/s/sculpture-techniques/, accessed 17 October 2013.
13
Julian Andrews, ‘Helmet Head No.1’, in David Mitchinson (ed.), Celebrating Moore: Works from the Collection of the Henry Moore Foundation, London 2006, p.226.
14
Henry Moore cited in Mervyn Levy, ‘Henry Moore: Sculpture Against the Sky’, Studio International, May 1964, p.179, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.236.
15
For an image of this sculpture see http://www.moma.org/collection//browse_results.php?object_id=81223, accessed 22 October 2013.
16
Will Grohmann, The Art of Henry Moore, London 1960, pp.106, 108.
17
Henry Moore cited in Michael Chase, ‘Moore on his Methods’, Christian Science Monitor, 24 March 1967, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.214.
18
Andrew Causey, The Drawings of Henry Moore, London 2010, p.98.
19
John Russell, Henry Moore, New York 1968, pp.117–18.
20
David Sylvester, Henry Moore, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1968, p.85.
21
Julian Stallabrass, ‘Darkness in the Shelter’, Henry Moore, exhibition catalogue, Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, Bilbao 1990, http://www.courtauld.ac.uk/people/stallabrass_julian/PDF/Bilbao.pdf, accessed 22 October 2013.
22
Moore cited in Chase 1967, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.214.
23
Erich Neumann, The Archetypal World of Henry Moore, London 1959, p.100.
24
Ian Dejardin, ‘Square Forms and Heads’, Henry Moore at Dulwich Picture Gallery, exhibition catalogue, Dulwich Picture Gallery, London 2004, pp.97–8.
25
Neumann 1959, pp.102–3.
26
Ibid., pp.101–3.
27
Ibid., p.102.
28
Grohmann 1960, p.106.
29
Ibid.
30
Ibid.
31
Stallabrass 1990, accessed 22 October 2013.
32
Ibid.
33
Henry Moore, ‘Preface’, Helmet Head Lithographs, Geneva 1975, unpaginated.
34
Andrews 2006, p.226.
35
Ibid.
36
Laura Doan, ‘Wombs of War: Henry Moore’s Repositioning of Gender’, Gender, no.17, fall 1993, p.53.
37
Ibid.
38
Ibid.
39
Alan Wilkinson, The Drawings of Henry Moore, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1977, p.144.
40
Ibid.
41
Roger Tolson, ‘Moore and the Machinery of War’, Henry Moore: War and Utility, exhibition catalogue, Imperial War Museum, London 2006, p.31.
42
Ibid.
43
See Roger Berthoud, The Life of Henry Moore, 1987, revised edn, London 2003, p.183.
44
Tate cannot acquire works of art by artists while they are serving as trustees.
45
Minutes of Meeting of the Trustees of the Tate Gallery, 16 May 1957, Tate Public Records TG/4/2/742/2.
46
Jane Lascelles, letter to Henry Moore, 1 June 1961, Tate Public Records TG/20/6/1.
47
Harold Osborne, ‘Two at the Tate’, Arts Review, 12 November 1976, p.605.
48
Mary Ellis, letter to Henry Moore, 1978, The Henry Moore Foundation Archive.
49
These figures are based on those listed in a memo in the records for the exhibition. See Tate Public Records TG 92/344/2.

Notes