Henry Moore OM, CH

Maquette for Standing Figure

1950, cast 1956

Medium
Bronze on wooden base
Dimensions
Object: 275 x 94 x 75 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Bequeathed by Elly Kahnweiler 1991 to form part of the gift of Gustav and Elly Kahnweiler, accessioned 1994
Reference
T06827

Summary

Maquette for Standing Figure, 1950, was made in an edition of seven casts (of which this is number one) plus one artist’s proof. It is the model for Moore’s large bronze sculpture Standing Figure of the same year, a work which exploits the ductile properties of bronze to the full, twisting it like a ribbon around large areas of empty space. With Standing Figure and its maquette Moore generated an interdependent spatial relationship between the void and the slender bronze which surrounds it, creating a work which would have been impossible to make in stone. This sculpture, based on a drawing of 1948, was the last important work by Moore which originated from a drawing.

At the beginning of his career Moore worked mostly in stone. Subscribing to the modernist ethos of ‘truth to material’, his early pieces were carved directly, and not made from models by assistants. However, in the mid-1930s he began to vary his approach, often making clay maquettes that he would use to create the final work. Moore eventually moved on to casting his work in bronze as well as carving it in stone or wood. Liberated from the constraints of carving, the artist almost entirely eliminated drawing from his working process by the mid-1950s and explored his ideas through small maquettes. These had an intrinsic quality of immediacy or spontaneity and allowed him to imagine the finished product in the round. In 1968 he said, ‘with the kind of sculpture I do now, I need to know it from on top and from underneath as well as from all sides. And so I prefer to work out my ideas in the form of small maquettes which I can hold in my hand and look at from every point of view.’ (Quoted in Wilkinson, 2002, p.239.) In order to translate the scale of the work more effectively from portable to over life-size, he often made larger working models as an intermediate stage between the maquette and the finished sculpture.

Moore’s maquettes were typically cast in bronze in editions of up to ten. The sculptor strove for monumentality in his work and tried to imbue the same quality in the small maquettes. He also took a great deal of care with their finish. Some were more polished than others, some darker, some greener. Moore did all the patination himself, treating the bronze with different acids to achieve different effects then working on it by hand, rubbing and wearing it down.

Further reading:
Henry Moore: Maquettes and Working Models, exhibition catalogue, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City 1987
Alan Wilkinson (ed.), Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, Aldershot 2002
Giorgia Bottinelli, ‘Henry Moore’, in Jennifer Mundy (ed.), Cubism and its Legacy: The Gift of Gustav and Elly Kahnweiler, exhibition catalogue, Tate Modern, London 2004, pp.82-7, reproduced p.85 in colour

Giorgia Bottinelli
March 2004

Display caption

By the mid-1950s Moore had almost entirely eliminated drawing from his creative process and explored his ideas through small maquettes. These had an intrinsic quality of immediacy or spontaneity and allowed him to imagine the finished product in the round. In order to translate the scale of the work more effectively, he often made larger working models as an intermediate stage between the maquette and the finished sculpture. Moore’s maquettes were typically cast in bronze in editions of up to ten. The sculptor strove for monumentality in his work and tried to imbue the same quality in the small maquettes. He also took a great deal of care with their finish. Some were more polished than others, some darker, some greener. Moore did all the patination himself, treating the bronze with different acids to achieve different effects then working on it by hand, rubbing and wearing it down.

Gallery label, September 2004

Catalogue entry

Entry

Fig.1
Detail of Maquette for Standing Figure 1950, cast 1956 showing modelling marks on surface
Tate T06827
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Maquette for Standing Figure is a small bronze sculpture that served as a preparatory model for a much larger sculpture titled Standing Figure 1950. In both sculptures the human form is represented by a thin, skeletal structure comprising rod-like limbs and differently shaped planes. At the top, two elongated necks rise up to rounded globules featuring a single circular impression. Despite the work’s title these two protrusions appear to represent two individual heads, implying the presence of two individual figures, although they could also be seen to denote two antenna-like eyes (fig.1).
At the base of the necks two flat, triangular forms protrude from the front and the back of the figure respectively and may represent a chest and a shoulder blade. Although they are roughly the same size and shape, these two forms are positioned at different angles so that the planes appear to overlap from certain positions. The empty space of the torso below is outlined by two wiry forms, which may also connote arms. They extend downwards, meeting at the hip or pelvis area, which is denoted by a disk tilted at an angle. From this intersection extend two thin legs, bridged at the mid-point by a horizontal bar. The legs terminate at a single, oval-shaped disk, which is attached to the wooden base.
Although the psychologist Erich Neumann argued in 1959 that this sculpture had ‘only a very distant resemblance to the human form’, in 1965 the art critic Herbert Read described it as definitively human.1 For Read, Moore had split ‘the human frame along the lines of force indicated by arms and legs with a nodular joint at the shoulders, hips and knees. The shoulder-blades are extruded as triangular wedges, which the neck is again split to end in two antennae-like heads’.2

Alice Correia
February 2014

Notes

1
Erich Neumann, The Archetypal World of Henry Moore, London 1959, p.106.
2
Herbert Read, Henry Moore: A Study of his Life and Work, London 1965, p.170.
3
Robert Melville, Henry Moore: Sculpture and Drawings 1921–1969, London 1970, p.26.
4
Henry Moore cited in ‘Henry Moore Talking to David Sylvester’, 7 June 1963, transcript of Third Programme, broadcast BBC Radio, 14 July 1963, Tate Archive TGA 200816, p.16. Moore evidently thought that this drawing was successful and recreated it as a lithographic print, Red and Blue Standing Figures 1950 (The Henry Moore Foundation). See http://catalogue.henry-moore.org:8080/emuseum/view/objects/asitem/Objects@17732/0?t:state:flow=3f0b836c-0e61-4fb7-b2b3-21e72967c749, accessed 10 February 2014.
5
For a video explaining the lost wax process see http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/s/sculpture-techniques/, accessed 23 January 2014.
6
In addition to casting new works, from c.1955 Moore re-cast in bronze a number of small sculptures that had originally been made in lead during the 1930s (see Reclining Figure 1939, Tate T00387). Although this maquette was cast in 1956, six years after the plasticine model was created, this time-lag should not be regarded as unusual given the volume of casting Moore was overseeing during this period.
7
Read 1965, p.164.
8
Henry Moore sales log book, Henry Moore Foundation Archive.
9
Ibid.
10
Henry Moore cited in John Hedgecoe (ed.), Henry Moore, London 1968, p.266.
11
Henry Moore cited in Donald Hall, ‘Henry Moore: An Interview by Donald Hall’, Horizon, November 1960, reprinted in Alan Wilkinson (ed.), Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, Aldershot 2002, p.233.
12
Read 1965, pp.164–5.
13
Transcript provided in Ann Garrould (ed.), Henry Moore. Volume 4: Complete Drawings 1950–76, London 2003, p.36.
14
See ibid.
15
Ibid.
16
Henry Moore, ‘Sculpture in the Open Air: A Talk by Henry Moore on his Sculpture and its Placing in Open-Air Sites’, March 1955, Tate Artist Catalogue File, Henry Moore, A23941, reprinted in Philip James (ed.), Henry Moore on Sculpture, London 1966, p.109.
17
Ibid., p.108.
18
For an extended discussion of the British Pavilion at the 1952 Venice Biennale see Jennifer Powell, ‘A Coherent, National “School” of Sculpture? Constructing Post-War New British Sculpture through Exhibition Practices’, Sculpture Journal, vol.21, no.2, 2012, pp.37–50.
19
Henry Moore, ‘Interview with Elizabeth Blunt’, Kaleidoscope, radio programme, broadcast BBC Radio 4, 9 April 1973, transcript reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.167.
20
Christopher Green, ‘Henry Moore and Picasso’, in James Beechy and Chris Stephens (eds.), Picasso and Modern British Art, exhibition catalogue, Tate Britain, London 2012, p.131.
21
See Minotaure, no.1, 1933, pp.36–7. For further discussion on Moore’s familiarity with French periodicals, including Minotaure, see Julia Kelly, ‘The Unfamiliar Figure: Henry Moore in French Periodicals of the 1930s’, in Jane Beckett and Fiona Russell (eds.), Henry Moore: Critical Essays, Aldershot 2003, pp.43–65.
22
Will Grohmann, The Art of Henry Moore, London 1960, p.195.
23
Ibid.
24
Neumann 1959, p.106.
25
Neumann 1959, p.93.
26
Read 1965, p.171.
27
Ibid., p.170.
28
Ibid., p.171.
29
Richard Calvocoressi, ‘Moore, the Holocaust and Cold War Politics’, in Chris Stephens (ed.), Henry Moore, exhibition catalogue, Tate Britain, London 2010, pp.74–5.
30
Herbert Read, ‘New Aspects of British Sculpture’, in Exhibition of Works by Sutherland, Wadsworth, Adams, Armitage, Butler, Chadwick, Clarke, Meadows, Moore, Paolozzi, Turnbull.Organised by the British Council for the XXVI Biennale, Venice, exhibition catalogue, Venice Biennale, Venice 1952, unpaginated.
31
Melville 1970, p.24.
32
Henry Moore cited in David Sylvester (ed.), Sculpture and Drawings by Henry Moore, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1951, p.4.
33
Moore 1955 reprinted in James 1966, p.109.
34
Henry Moore sales log book, Henry Moore Foundation Archive.
35
Robert Melville, ‘Henry Moore and the Siting of Public Sculpture’, Architectural Review, February 1954, p.89.
36
Neumann 1959, p.107.
37
For a full account of the Kahnweiler Gift, see Jennifer Mundy (ed.), Cubism and its Legacy: The Gift of Gustav and Elly Kahnweiler, exhibition catalogue, Tate Modern, London 2004.

Read full Catalogue entry

Explore