Henry Moore OM, CH, 'Four-Piece Composition: Reclining Figure' 1934

Henry Moore OM, CH
Four-Piece Composition: Reclining Figure 1934
Cumberland alabaster
object: 175 x 457 x 203 mm
Purchased with assistance from the Art Fund 1976© The Henry Moore Foundation. This image must not be reproduced or altered without prior consent from the Henry Moore Foundation.

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In the late 1920s and the 1930s, Henry Moore (1898–1986) – soon recognised as the most significant British artist of his generation – drew inspiration from various aspects of Picasso’s art. He was certainly looking at Picasso by 1924.

While the two artists shared a debt to African and other non-western traditions, Picasso’s neo-classical work of the early 1920s reinforced Moore’s interest in Greco-Roman and Renaissance sculpture. Moore recognised a tension in both their work between the Mediterranean tradition and so-called ‘primitive’ sources.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Moore mainly encountered Picasso’s latest work in journals such as Cahiers d’Art. Picasso’s drawings made in relation to a commission for a monument to the poet Guillaume Apollinaire, which were reproduced in the magazine, were especially stimulating for Moore. Picasso’s depiction of the human body as a pile of detached but suggestive abstract forms, was echoed in a series of multi-part sculptures made by Moore around 1934.

When Moore’s art became more abstracted in the early 1930s, it seems to have drawn upon that of Picasso. Both artists were resistant to Surrealism but Moore found in Picasso’s distorted, eroticised figures a model for an expression of the body as a physical presence.