Catalogue entry

T00388 HELMET HEAD NO. I 1950

Not inscribed.
Bronze, 13×10 1/4×10 (33×26×25·5).
Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1960.
Coll: Purchased by the Friends of the Tate Gallery from the artist 1960.
Exh: The lead original: Curt Valentin Gallery, New York, March 1951 (25, repr.).
Lit: Read, II, 1955, No.10, the lead original repr.; Neumann, 1959, pp.99–103, the lead original repr. pl.71; Grohmann, 1960, pp.106–8, the lead original repr. pl.94.

The second of nine bronze casts (plus one artist's copy) from one of the two original lead ‘Helmet Heads’ of 1950 (the other repr. Read, op. cit., No.11). Besides the maquettes for the two heads (that for No.T.388 is 5 1/2 in. high; both repr. Read, op. cit., Nos.10a and 11a) there are, on the same scale, five separate projects for the inner forms only (‘Five Figures: Interior for lead helmets’, repr. Read, op. cit., No.9); all these were executed in 1950.

The artist's first works to show this combination of an inner and an external form, a development of the opening out of the forms in such works as No.T.387, date from early in 1940, the lead ‘Helmet’ in the collection of Roland Penrose (Read and Sylvester, I, 1957, No.212, repr. p.135) and such drawings as the Tate Gallery's No.5210. The idea was not taken up again until some sketches of 1948–50 (e.g. those repr. Read and Sylvester, op. cit., p.269, and Read, op. cit., No.103). After the ‘Helmet Heads’ of 1950 it was developed in a number of upright and reclining figures in wood and bronze of 1951–4 (repr. Read, op. cit., Nos.23–8). In 1960 the artist returned to the head motif in ‘Helmet Head No.3’ (repr. exh. cat., Whitechapel, December 1960–January 1961, No.64).

Neumann sees the ‘Helmet Heads’ of 1950 as representing figures from an inorganic mechanistic world, in strong contrast to Moore's usual organic style. They have a parallel in the ‘Openwork Heads’ of the same year, though in these the lattice-work shell encloses a void (repr. Read, op. cit., Nos.12–17).

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, II