Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity

ISBN 978-1-84976-391-2

Fashioning a Post-War Reputation: Henry Moore as a Civic Sculptor c.1943–58

Andrew Stephenson

During and after the Second World War Moore became known for his commitment to communicating with a broad public and for his public service. This essay explores the different ways in which his reputation as a civic sculptor was built and how, in a changing political and economic climate, this identity evolved over the course of the 1950s.
In his speech to the International Conference of Artists in Venice in September 1952 organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), Henry Moore, as a member of the English delegation, reviewed the current position of ‘The Sculptor in Modern Society’. Addressing an audience of more than two hundred delegates from forty-four member states, most of them artists, Moore set out his ideas about the relationship of the artist to contemporary society reflecting his anxieties about the economic conditions of the art world in the post-war decades and assessing its implications for art patronage and the autonomy of the artist:
Sculpture, even more than painting ... is a public art and for that reason I am at once involved in those problems which we have met here to discuss – the relation of the artist to society – more particularly, the relation of the artist to the particular form of society which we have at this moment of history.1
He continued:
We live in a transitional age, between one economic structure of society which is in dissolution and another economic order of society which has not yet taken definite shape. As artists we do not know who is our master; we are individuals seeking patronage; sometimes from another individual, sometimes from an organisation of individuals – a public corporation, a museum, an educational authority – sometimes from the State itself. This very diversity of patronage requires of the art of the modern artist, an adaptability or agility that was not required of the artist in a unified society.2
The problem of how best to negotiate these changing circumstances ‘in a transitional age’ was not, Moore argued, merely a question of the relationship between individual artists and patrons, nor was it a matter of state-funded support versus private patronage. The issue held wider ramifications about the autonomy of the artist and the need to develop artistic languages that harmonised with the sculpture’s location and spatial context. When the artwork entered into the public domain, Moore concluded, ‘the piece of sculpture is no longer a thing in itself, complete in its isolation – it is part of a larger unit, a public building, a school or a church’.3 Art then constituted an important part of a modern civic culture that in post-war Britain emphatically saw the sculptor and his or her social role aligned to the production of public art. The symbolic importance of Moore’s commitment to this position was exemplified when Moore was asked in 1957 to provide a monumental Reclining Figure, made from travertine marble, to stand in front of Unesco’s new Paris headquarters.
Henry Moore 'Pink and Green Sleepers' 1941
Henry Moore
Pink and Green Sleepers 1941
Tate N05713
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
If 1952 marked out this ‘very public period’ in Moore’s life when he was eager to comment publicly on the civic responsibilities of the artist and patron in post-war reconstruction and become energetically involved with the advisory committees directing public arts organisations, museums and galleries, its beginnings can be found some nine years earlier in 1943. This was the moment when Moore returned to making sculpture, after having been an official War Artist from 1941 to 1942. Starting in 1940, Moore had concentrated in these early years of the war on producing drawings of the crowds sleeping in underground tube shelters (such as Pink and Green Sleepers 1941, fig.1, and Tube Shelter Perspective. The Liverpool Street Extension 1941) and depicting the devastation of bombed out buildings during the Blitz (such as Study for ‘Morning after the Blitz’ 1940–1 and Falling Buildings: The City 30 December 1940 1940–1). At first made spontaneously, the drawings were later made on commission and attracted considerable demand.4 Moore had also completed a series of commissioned drawings of miners bent double or kneeling at work in the collieries for the War Artists’ Advisory Committee (WAAC), such as Men Leaving Coalface Climbing over Conveyor Belt 1942 and At the Coalface. A Miner Pushing a Tub 1942.5 A number of these drawings had been reproduced in Geoffrey Grigson’s book Henry Moore, published in 1944 as part of the Penguin Modern Painters series edited by Kenneth Clark. The paperback was inexpensive and by 1948 over 56,000 had been printed and 48,000 sold.6 Moore’s return to producing public sculpture – perhaps a consequence of the new ‘adaptability’ required of the artist in a post-war transitional age, as mentioned in his speech – corresponded to the request to carve a Madonna and Child for the Parish Church of St. Matthew in Northampton in 1943. Key public and private commissions followed that clearly demonstrated Moore’s appetite for and commitment to a more public function for his work. These included the two Family Groups installed in Barclay School, Stevenage (1948–9) and in Harlow New Town (1954–5); the Reclining Figure 1951 commissioned by the Arts Council for the Festival of Britain in 1951; the Time-Life Screen 1952–3 and Draped Reclining Figure 1952–3, commissioned by the architect Michael Rosenauer for Pearl Assurance’s Time-Life Building in London’s Bond Street; the Bouwcentrum Wall Relief in Rotterdam 1955; and the Unesco Reclining Figure, already mentioned, in 1957–8.7
For Moore, the significance of international organisations like Unesco and national arts agencies such as the Arts Council (founded in August 1946), the British Council (previously part of the Department of Overseas Trade and renamed in July 1935) and the Council of Industrial Design (established in 1944), lay not only in their capacity for promoting the social status of public art or in their role as patrons for the commissioning of monumental sculpture and sometimes shown in touring exhibitions and biennials. Rather it was in their role in promoting Britain as a country of world-class art and culture and their use of public funds to do so.8 Their public role was key for Moore in their ‘guaranteeing of the freedom and independence of the artist’, which in turn supported the organic flourishing of a more meritocratic modern society to which artists were key contributors.9 Moore’s conviction, at least from around 1955, was that the artist should make a substantial contribution to social progress. In formulating these proposals for his Unesco audience, the ideas of Moore’s friend and art writer, Herbert Read were influential and Moore paid Read a fee for helping him write his speech.10
This sense that the post-war period would herald a new dawn for the enhanced social role of the arts in the public sphere, distinguished by new conceptions of scale and purpose for civic sculpture in particular, and supported by local authority managers, art trusts and state patrons, was especially marked in Britain as a consequence of the landslide victory of the Labour Party in July 1945. The new Labour Government, as its manifesto had promised, supported greater state involvement including the introduction of the welfare state, the establishment of the National Health System and access to free secondary education through the 1944 Butler Education Act. It also increased public funding for the arts and state support for an expanded arts infrastructure in return for a greater degree of public access to culture: ‘by the provision of concert halls, modern libraries, theatres and suitable civic centres, we desire to assure to all our people full access to the heritage of culture in this nation’.11
As part of a programme of policies that promised to ‘democratise culture’ and to strengthen the managerial bureaucracies of its administration, the Labour Government transformed the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts (CEMA), originally set up in 1930 as the charitable Pilgrim Trust, into the state-funded Arts Council in 1946. Its key responsibility was to offer direct state patronage by using public funds for the arts.12 A significant part of this responsibility related to using funds to encourage contemporary art to flourish, achieved by state-supported patronage for its artist-citizens and for its art agencies and institutions. At the core of Labour’s policy was the desire to find ways to expand access to modern art and empower a greater sense of responsible and democratic citizenship, thereby helping to secure a positive and enlightened commitment to an altered post-war social consensus.13
For his part, Moore willingly became an ambassador for this ambition. He became a Trustee of the Tate Gallery (1941–8), a member of the Arts panel of the Arts Council of Great Britain (1945–51), a member of the Royal Fine Arts Commission (1947–52) and a committee member of the First London County Council Open-Air Exhibition of Sculpture in 1948. He was also a member of the Institute of Contemporary Art from 1949 and on its Advisory Council (1951–6). According to John Rothenstein, Moore was ‘a conspicuously useful Trustee’ at the Tate Gallery since he had informed opinions ‘on any topic that arose, whether of judgement or administration’.14 Moore’s national and international art world contacts, and his detailed knowledge of and appreciation of contemporary art developments were extensive and invaluable. For his part, as Moore put it in a letter to the artist Naum Gabo, he worked especially hard to ensure that that Tate sculpture collection was ‘representative’,15 since as a trustee Moore was regularly consulted on prospective purchases of contemporary sculpture,16 and about the way in which sculpture should be displayed and illuminated in the Tate’s galleries.17 Moore’s success in these consultative and co-opted roles was further confirmed when in 1949 he was re-appointed as Tate Trustee (1949–56). In 1953 he was re-appointed to the Royal Fine Arts Commission (1953–8) and in 1955 he was elected as a Trustee of the National Gallery, a role he held until 1974.
Moore’s active participation in these post-war arts committees can be seen to demonstrate his personal commitment to the need to resurrect and reconfirm the shattered traditions and cultural values of Europe after the destruction of war. On another level, it can also be interpreted as responding to the political imperatives of the Labour Government to forge a more meritocratic, consensual and inclusive art culture after the war by establishing government bureaucracies of culture that represented a more liberal and broader class viewpoint. One difficulty, as the playwright Michael Frayn later highlighted, was that the politicians, who were in charge of such a comprehensive reorganisation and democratisation of Britain’s post-war cultural agenda and responsible for overseeing the membership of the boards of these commissions, national museums and art galleries, were themselves often largely middle class whose knowledge of contemporary art was limited and defined by pre-war elite, patrician taste. Referring to the organisation of the 1951 Festival of Britain – one of the key demonstrations of the benefits that these changes brought with them – Frayn recognised that: ‘With the exception of Herbert Morrison ... there was almost no-one of working class background concerned in planning the Festival and nothing about the result to suggest that that the working classes were anything more than the loveable human but inert object of benevolent administration.’18 In overseeing the constitution of these new, more democratic, consensual arts bodies and in shaping how their operations reflected a more representative post-war civic culture, there was consequently a need to find committee members and trustees who were knowledgeable about the arts, who could both demonstrate their left-wing Labour affiliation and working class credentials, and yet also hold their own in discussions about forging a more democratic, inclusive and meritocratic post-war arts culture. Moore’s northern working-class background, his inheritance of his father’s deeply held left-wing political views formed through Moore senior’s involvement with the Yorkshire Miners’ Union and Castleford Labour Party, Moore junior’s war-time military service in the First World War (1917–9) which led to him being gassed, and his friendship with Herbert Read, former member of the Leeds Art Club and contributor to the left-wing journal the New Age, made him a candidate with ideal credentials.19 Moreover, as the art historian Robert Burstow has shown and the Unesco speech reinforced, ‘Moore evidently perceived a close relationship between his political sympathies and his artistic concerns believing that the artist should play a crucial role in the political process’.20 As Moore stated in 1940, ‘I have clear convictions, and think that the artist, the poet, makes through his work, a basic attack on what is wrong with the running of the world’.21 Indeed, at the end of the 1930s, Moore’s staunch left-wing political views had led Ben Nicholson to believe that Moore had joined the Communist Party and had encouraged Arthur Sale to characterise him as a ‘Socialist’.22 In spring 1941 the poet Dylan Thomas cited Moore as an associate of the Communist Party members, Roger Roughton and Bert Lloyd.23
In the post-war period, such distinctions in family background, education, manner and accent were important markers of political affiliations. They were also significant in terms of marking out the modern younger men of the post-war generation as distinctive in outlook and taste from earlier pre-war ones. For some artists, the direct political affiliations and class credentials required by the Labour Government, along with the stronger commitment to the artist’s social responsibility and to shaping a national arts culture, was a lamentable development. As the writer Alan Ross noted in 1950, this requirement had dramatic consequences for the earlier notion of the artist as a gifted, if eccentric amateur and independently-minded bohemian. Neither model was any longer tenable and had been replaced, instead, by that of the artist as a respectable professional arts functionary with a savvy business-like approach:
There was a perceptible change in the relationship of the artist to society. Bohemianism, like Bloomsbury or Chelsea, was dead as a term applicable to Art. Painters, like writers, could no longer afford la vie bohème. Artists, with the slight rise in the respectability of their professions, became bourgeois. The best painters and writers preferred to be taken for stockbrokers or professional men of leisure, rather than reveal their trade by their appearance.24
As radio broadcasts, television and film interviews demonstrate, Moore eagerly embraced the opportunities this altered situation offered. Moore’s soft Yorkshire accent, his humble beginnings as a miner’s son and his blunt, no-nonsense, working class approach and unpretentious dress marked him out as conspicuously different in style from the majority of the ‘Establishment’ in the 1950s. Moore’s rugged, unaffected manner was especially removed from the polite southern-English, middle-class, genteel characteristics that were the hallmarks of the ‘Mandarin classes’ who largely dominated the 1950s intellectual aristocracy and connoisseur culture.25 Moore’s reputation for being ‘hands on’ and getting physically engaged similarly proffered him as a markedly different type of cultural worker than this earlier bohemian model, and one far removed from the stereotypes of the introspective effeminate aesthete or the Oxbridge-educated, intellectual snob. What prevailed, and was repeated commented upon by journalists, was a workmanlike impression of an industrious sculptor with his roots in the North, who, coming from a working class background, ‘spoke his mind’ and who had through his commitment to self-improvement and hard work achieved deserved professional success.26
However, this self-styled public persona was not without its contradictions since Moore was highly educated and socially well networked with an ability to develop and exploit extensive links with influential arts ‘Establishment’ figures. Moore had attended Leeds College of Art (1919–21) and the Royal College of Art (1921–4) and taught at the Royal College of Art (1925–32) and Chelsea School of Art (1932–9). His down-to-earth qualities and seemingly unpretentious tastes belied his intellectualism honed by mixing in cosmopolitan artistic circles in London and Paris where he had developed a broad understanding of contemporary artistic and aesthetic debates.
In fact, Moore’s eager promotion of the new political programme of the post-war era and embrace of Labour’s social policies characterised him as a new brand of English public intellectual, committed to a more democratic culture. Such an image of the sculptor was widely disseminated by the expanding popular media. Moore’s sensible, business-like approach and enthusiastic engagement with publicity in the form of actively promoting himself through media interviews, radio broadcasts and later film and television appearances added to this impression that he, unlike many artists, embraced the opportunities that the media provided for the popularisation of modern art and for its wider appreciation. During the war Moore had appeared drawing in the London Underground shelters in Jill Craigie’s film about war artists Out of Chaos (1944) and the artist was the subject of two documentary films: Henry Moore by John Read, made to coincide with Moore’s 1951 exhibition at the Tate Gallery during the Festival of Britain, and the BBC-television film A Sculptor’s Landscape (1958).27 He also featured in photographs by Lee Miller taken in 1940 and in photographs by Ida Kar published in Vogue in November 1955. In 1949 Gjon Mili photographed Moore as he made a light drawing in his studio of his Family Group in c.1949 and, in a similar vein, Errol Jackson photographed him at work in his studio carving his Reclining Figure 1959–64. Moore also contributed to a recorded talk, edited by Robert Melville for the British Council titled Sculpture in the Open-Air (1955), and he was frequently pictured at newsworthy arts events such as the unveiling of his sculpture in Battersea Park in 1953. In January 1953 television cameras went for the first time into the galleries at the Tate Gallery where they focused upon Moore’s pre-war sculpture Recumbent Figure 1938, recently repatriated from the United States after being in the courtyard of MOMA. The show demonstrated how television could promote his work and reputation, while expanding a popular interest in the Tate Gallery and its modern art collection.28
These media appearances, while conforming to well-established conventions of the artist at work in a studio, underscored Moore’s manly, working class credentials. They frequently showed him carving stone, evidencing the idea that contemporary sculpture demanded physical strength and hard manual labour allied to precise technical skills. These appearances also advertised Moore as a modern breed of artist who did not shy away from publicity or mass media attention but exploited the potential they held for forging artistic celebrity, even if, as the art historian Pauline Rose has noted, they did not ‘fulfil the expected traits of either the modern artist or the modern celebrity’.29 As curator Jon Wood has argued: ‘Moore may not have been a ‘dandy’, but that is not to say that he did not have a shrewd and sophisticated awareness of how he and his work should be presented, and of the importance of photography as a means for avant-garde sculptors to promote their individual identities.’30
Given his humble background, Moore could often cast himself and his work as having a special insight into a broader social viewpoint. As the popular success of Moore’s shelter drawings had demonstrated to Kenneth Clark, the war had provided Moore with ideal and empathetic subjects that engaged wider audiences with modern art since Moore ‘had a really moving tragic subject which is within the range of almost anyone’s experience’.31 And as Moore himself later acknowledged, ‘the shelter drawings did seem to get through to a much larger public than I’d ever reached before’.32
When in a radio panel discussion, the transcript of which was later published in the Listener on 13 November 1941, Moore had been questioned about the way his abstracted forms might ‘look to the average man’ who viewed their visual language as ‘fairly removed from human experience’, Moore responded that the average bloke might find ‘some work puzzling and strange’ since it was not ‘immediately recognisable’ and beyond his ‘technical experience’.33 Nevertheless, Moore confidently asserted that in spite of the difficulties posed by the complex formalised design and abstract composition, his works’ engagement with the human figure and with ‘human experience [as] the only experience we have got to work from’ would encourage the lay spectator to recognise in his drawings and sculpture the signs of the artist’s ‘individual form vision’.34
Reflecting the enormous collective effort of the war and the left-wing belief that all sections of British society should participate equally and more fully in national life, Moore’s works from 1943 to 1948, with their themes of family groups, Madonna and child, and standing and reclining figures, held a perceived sense of ‘inherent humanism’. This was interpreted as an embrace of what the writer and curator Lynne Cooke has termed ‘the then heavily promoted utopian vision of a civic sculpture’ and as ‘an art that would both resurrect and reconfirm the shattered traditions and cultural values, but also provide a civilising and enlivening public exemplar in the era of reconstruction’.35 Even if Moore believed that the general public could not fully appreciate the formal innovations and technical languages of contemporary abstract sculpture,36 there was a sense that his work and its themes was a manifestation of this ‘new common experience’37 that embraced a greater sense of social equality and community welfare.38
This post-war approach was particularly reflected in the Labour government’s commitment to expanding art education, to widening access to museums and art galleries, and to supporting public art and temporary exhibitions. In 1945 the Council of the Museums Association published a document entitled Museums and Art Galleries: A National Service. A Post-War Policy.39 Based on the ‘Memorandum on Museums and Reconstruction’ formulated at the height of the war in 1942 and developed in discussions between the Ministry of Reconstruction and the Museums Association in 1943, the survey placed special emphasis upon the importance of museums and their educational services to national welfare. Responsible ‘for educational work in art’, what it proposed was the organisation of a Museums and Art Gallery Grants Board with the power to allocate grants for the purchase and provision of artworks for new arts centres, to organise ‘regular lectures on the permanent collections and temporary exhibitions’ and to allocate funds to aid the publication of books and catalogues with reproductions. Two key recommendations in response to ‘the increasing demands for national services in Museums, the Drama and the Cinema’ were outlined. First, the formation of ‘a nationwide system of education in the appreciation of art for adults and for school children, to be operated though arts centres or art galleries’. Secondly, where new art galleries were needed, ‘galleries should be parts of combined Art or Community Centres’ and have extended evening opening hours so that working people could attend.40
During the war the press had reported large and enthusiastic audiences both in London and in the provinces for art exhibitions, and there had been a noticeable rise in attendances at the ballet and the theatre as well as cinemas.41 This policy document was, in part, a response to these trends.42 Almost immediately after the start of the war, this increased demand for culture led the Ministry of Information to look for ways of exploiting this enthusiasm for contemporary art and for information about it. The growing number of art and design exhibitions held during the war, organised by public bodies such as the Ministry of Information and the Army Bureau of Current Affairs as well as by CEMA, had been undertaken both to boost morale and to educate and entertain the general public. As art historian Veronica Davies has argued, the objective was ‘to make the visual language of modern art and design much more widely accessible than had been the case in 1930s, and especially, to take it beyond the confines of the metropolis’.43 One aim had been to promote a greater familiarity with modern art and design languages, in particular by including modern sculpture such as Moore’s in touring shows to the regions. From 1941 to 1944 the British Institute of Adult Education (BIAE) toured four such exhibitions to over eighty venues. Likewise, the Museums Association circulated five collections of artworks to sixty-five venues in forty-one cities, towns and villages.44 In Moore’s case, in 1941, eighty-six of Moore’s drawings and sculptures had been shown alongside work by Graham Sutherland and John Piper in a CEMA touring show, 3 British Artists: Moore, Piper, Sutherland held at the Leeds Country House Museum at Temple Newsam.45 Again in April–June 1945, Moore’s sculpture was shown alongside the work of Ivon Hitchens in a CEMA-organised exhibition at Leeds; one of 730 venues to receive CEMA or BIAE shows that year.46
After the war, this message about the eagerness of British audiences for modern art and the use of the arts to promote good taste was central to the recommendations of the Arts Inquiry report into the Visual Arts published in 1946 to examine the role of and support for the visual arts, music, drama and factual film.47 Among its many recommendations, the Arts Inquiry saw education as the key to Britain’s future development and prosperity, and importantly, modern art was seen as crucial to the formation of a public of discriminating and civilised individuals.48 Such a view would shape the vision of the arts management of the Arts Council announced as CEMA’s successor on 12 June 1945 and formally founded on 9 August 1945. An important manifestation of this outlook was the Arts Council’s first Sculpture in the Home exhibition, organised by Frank Dobson in 1946. Advocating the inclusion of modern art in the home, the exhibition aimed to show how small scale sculpture could be used as a powerful decorative feature in domestic settings and that it was available at relatively affordable prices of between £20 and £100.49 It was the first of a series of four shows that continued until 1958, and all included works by Moore.50 Indeed, Moore’s drawings were featured on the catalogue’s frontispiece, adding strength to the belief in the artist’s commitment to such views.
As the design historian Penny Sparke has shown, the main aim of these Sculpture in the Home exhibitions was to ‘create a new post-war aesthetic expressing the new incarnation of modernity that prevailed at the time’ and: ‘To promote a public interest in sculpture; to encourage through the use of relatively cheap material such as plaster and terracotta the public to purchase items of sculpture with which to decorate their homes; and to encourage new patrons for small-scale sculpture.’51 Given the desire to democratise the appreciation and understanding of contemporary art, as art historian Tanya Harrod has argued, ‘the exhibitions stood for humanistic values such as citizenship and the family and, in effect, replaced a public sculpture with commemorative, memorial or religious functions’.52 Well-attended and popular with younger audiences, the shows also highlighted ‘the relationship between sculpture and sculptors and the home – both conceptually and in terms of marketability – as opposed to public monumental projects and architecture’.53 In stressing the importance of the private patron to national prosperity, these initiatives highlighted the role played by the modern (often female) art consumer in the economic regeneration of post-war Britain.
This sense that sculpture could be used to benefit a broader appreciation of British culture was reinforced by the growth of open-air sculpture parks that generated an interest in sculpture experienced out of doors. The number and frequency of the open-air exhibitions from 1948 until the mid-1960s meant that it became a commonplace to see contemporary sculpture in such surroundings.54 The first of these open air shows was the Open Air Exhibition of Sculpture held in Battersea Park from May to September 1948, organised by the London County Council (LCC) in association with the Arts Council and which attracted 170,000 visitors.55 In 1950 the Contemporary Art Society presented the LCC with Moore’s Three Standing Figures 1948 and photographs show Moore at the unveiling on 21 June 1950 with Sir Edward Marsh, chair of the Contemporary Art Society, and Mrs Hugh Dalton, chair of the Battersea Parks committee, as an active participator in courting press attention and publicity for these open-air shows. As Moore later emphasised:
Sculptors must be gratified by the growing number of open-air exhibitions of sculpture which are being held everywhere. These exhibitions provide a test of their work and give some of their most ambitious things a sort of roving commission to go out into the world to meet a larger public and make new friends.56
These locations encouraged a more relaxed and less formal encounter with contemporary art for ‘the people’. Presented outside the gallery, sculpture could also be incorporated into parks, gardens and open spaces to enhance urban environments, improve public taste and foster appreciation. Moreover, the presence of guide-lecturers on hand in the parks to help ‘explain’ the works guided less confident viewers away from seeing these sculptures as merely decorative garden ornaments.
The enterprise shown by the Arts Council and other local authorities in commissioning modern sculpture for public sites and in expanding the audiences for contemporary art was evidence for many commentators of the successful participation of the British state in a reinvigorated cultural sphere. In 1947 the decisive impact that these initiatives had achieved in encouraging wider interest in the arts and in improving popular taste was noted by J.B. Priestley, who wrote:
Take a look sometime at the monthly bulletins of the Arts Council, with pages and pages devoted to what is happening in each group of counties, concerts by the hundred, repertory and touring companies all up and down the country, exhibitions of pictures and drawings going off in all directions, and then remember that all this represents new activity ... and I think you will arrive with me at the conclusion that although our people today may not know and appreciate as much art as they ought to do, there are certainly far more of them knowing and appreciating it than ever before in our history.57
However, this more democratic, populist approach to the arts and arts funding adopted by the British government contrasted with that adopted by some other post-war international arts organisations abroad who seemed to many commentators to be returning to more elitist, pre-war practices. In February 1947 the role that national museums and art galleries across Europe should play in post-war regeneration was a topical one, especially after the Burlington Magazine in its editorial openly criticised the principles outlined in Unesco’s recently published museums programme directive as ‘elitist’ and ‘intellectualist’. In a letter published in the magazine’s May issue Dr. Grace McCann Morley, Director of the San Francisco Museum of Art and officer in charge of the Unesco museums programme, countered what she called such ‘appallingly inaccurate’ and ‘ill-natured’ criticism. Morley argued that rather than criticising Unesco, as the editorial had done, ‘we had better make all our international organisations work if we want art or indeed any civilised life to survive’. Morley stressed that Unesco through museums sought the ‘cultivation of the individual for aesthetic perception and sensibility’ and art ‘education in the broadest sense’.58
This belief that museums and galleries should primarily cultivate artistic, intellectual or aesthetic individualism stood in a complex, if not contradictory, relationship to the new commitment in post-war Britain to cultural collectivism. As set out by the influential sociologist T.H. Marshall in his 1949 series of lectures ‘Citizenship and Social Class’, citizenship, as espoused by the new Labour reformists, was defined as a fundamental set of rights and duties shared by all members of the community, even if the structural transformations of industrial capitalism had impacted upon how these responsibilities and values were interpreted individually. For Marshall the raft of post-war social welfare legislation meant that citizenship had now reached its most expansive formulation: ‘now far in excess of any mere civil or political entitlements – as the right to fully participate in the social and cultural heritage of the nation’.59 It was this egalitarian sense of social inclusion and cultural entitlement that distinguished the new post-war Britain where any ‘design for community living’ was predicated upon shared benefits, meritocratic values and democratic welfare. Marshall concluded that: ‘Equalisation [under the welfare state] is not so much between classes as between individuals within a population which is now treated for this purpose as though it were one class. Equality of status is more important than equality of income.’60
What emerges forcefully at this moment from 1945 to 1951 is that the enforced mutual responsibility of citizenship, which the war had demanded from the British public from 1939 to 1945, was harnessed by the post-war Labour government to shape its social democratic agenda for a ‘New Britain’. Evidenced by the expanding audiences at art exhibitions and open-air sculpture parks, and the revitalised interest in modern art, such reforms, when placed alongside educational expansion, were the signs of the success of the access to a more democratic culture promised in post-war society.61
This commitment to more open, democratic access to culture and to the state support for the arts underpinned the nationwide celebrations of the Festival of Britain on the South Bank in London in 1951. This impressive and popular public event was largely a collaborative venture aimed at showing Britain’s recovery from the war. As the Festival’s Director-General, Gerald Barry put it, what was needed was that the Festival should be ‘gay and entertaining – not ‘precious’ or ‘highbrow’,62 thereby promoting a reinvigorated sense of national identity and pride, underpinned by recent educational reform and state-funded support for culture. The 1951 Festival of Britain was a clear demonstration of this desire by the Labour government to use the roles of education and culture as key parts of its post-war reconstruction agenda. As Mary Banham, artist and wife of architectural theorist Reyner Banham, has stressed, ‘the overall intention was that ... the people who visited its various manifestations should not only be entertained but also educated: people were in fact encouraged to come expecting to be educated’.63 Being simultaneously a public celebration, an educational project and an international marketing exercise to increase tourism, as historian Becky Conekin has shown, the Festival ‘constructed a vision of a new, democratic national community’.64 Moreover, costing four million pounds, ‘the Festival itself was the apogee of this policy, since it provided the money and occasion for architects, composers, painters and sculptors to work on a scale much larger than was normally possible’.65
Henry Moore
Henry Moore
Reclining Figure 1951 installed on the South Bank during the Festival of Britain 1951
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Photo: Henry Moore Foundation Archive
The Arts Council commissioned sixty painters and twelve sculptors to make works for the Festival. Working on a large scale dictated in advance and using canvases the size of 45 by 60 inches (114 x 152 cm), there were five purchase prizes of £500 suggesting that the works were intended for municipal patrons for their hospitals, schools, health centres and libraries rather than museums.66 In addition, the Arts Council commissioned large murals for the South Bank site from John Minton, Ben Nicholson, Josef Herman and Keith Vaughan. Panoramas by Graham Sutherland and John Piper as well as a ceramic mural by Victor Pasmore were also incorporated; and thirty new sculptures commissioned by the Arts Council, including Moore’s Reclining Figure 1951 (fig.2), were displayed on the South Bank. The suggestion had been made to Moore that ‘while no restriction is placed on the subject of your group, the Festival Committee themselves have suggested a Family Group and a subject symbolising ‘Discovery’ as a suitable theme for the Festival’; advice that he chose to ignore producing a reclining figure instead.67 Taken as a whole, the Festival pursued a technocratic vision of the future for Britain where planning and ethical socialism interfaced uneasily with older representations of the rule of law, fair play and ‘our Christian heritage’.68 Nevertheless, it also purposefully reiterated the importance attached to the visual arts in urban regeneration demonstrating according to Hugh Casson of the Festival’s Design Team, ‘a close harmony of sculpture and buildings, of landscape and mural painting’ with the sculpture being intended ’to be of interest to many different people’ in order to encourage visitors of all ages to engage with and appreciate it.69
To accompany the Festival, the Arts Council led by its Chairman, Sir Edward Pooley, had independently organised the London Season of Arts in May and June whose aim was not only to re-establish London as a capital of the arts and celebrate its pre-eminence as such but also to offer artists ‘from other parts of the country’ and ‘guest talent from overseas’ the opportunity to visit the city and to see the results of its modern art patronage at first hand.70 As explicitly stated in its guide, the Arts Season demonstrated ‘a democratic conviction which has been growing steadily through the years that good art is enjoyable art and should be appreciated by all and sundry, whatever their incomes may be’.71 Such an initiative also chimed with Gerald Barry’s objective of using the Festival to promote Britain’s claim, after the humiliation of France in the war, as the proper and principal defender of European values and culture. One consequence of this approach, as Becky Conekin has recognised, was that there were few representations of the British Empire and its colonies as the organisers downplayed Britain’s traditional links with the Commonwealth and the Empire preferring, instead, a more Europeanised version of modern Britain.72
Yet, as art historian Margaret Garlake has revealed, relationships between the Arts Council and the Festival Council organisers were extremely strained.73 Although a collaboration of sorts was brokered at the last minute allowing key artworks and sculptures to be commissioned for the South Bank and allowing the London Season of Arts to take place under its auspices, the Arts Council’s main event was the second international open-air sculpture show held by the LCC in Battersea Park. Building on the popular success of the earlier 1948 show, it displayed one work each by the main British and European sculptors of the previous fifty years with all the British works coming from private collections. As the planning document declared, the aim was to use sculpture to show how a more enlightened citizenry increasingly appreciated modern sculpture:
For the student, for the art-lover and even for the many who normally prefer to avoid galleries and museums, the scope of the exhibition will make it one of the most outstanding events of its kinds in recent years. Many visitors will find themselves enjoying sculpture as never before. To see these works of art in the open air against a natural background of grass and trees will be a new and vivid experience of beauty.74
For those preferring a more conventional viewing space, the Arts Council had also organised a retrospective at the Tate Gallery curated by David Sylvester titled Sculpture and Drawings by Henry Moore. As art historian Paul Overy has argued, at this moment in 1951, Moore’s work – his reclining figures in particular – had been transformed from being understood in the pre-war years as employing the formal language of a committed modernist appreciated by a small cosmopolitan minority of artists, writers and intellectuals, into a modern visual language increasingly being interpreted by the architects, planners and administrators of the welfare state as a symbolic language highly appropriate to a newly reconstructed sense of nationhood of the Festival organisers and embodying the social democratic agenda of the Arts Council and the London County Council.75
Such high profile exposure of Moore’s work at the Tate Gallery, Battersea Sculpture Park and on the South Bank was supplemented by examples of substantial state patronage by local authorities for the public spaces and parks of the New Towns and for major architectural projects. By 1956 the London County Council had become a conspicuous and generous public art patron, spending over £20,000 per year on works of sculpture for its schools and council estates.76 From that year it initiated a well-funded scheme to provide works of art for its newly-constructed estates, schools and public buildings; the choices of artworks overseen by Arts Council advisors.77 Although Moore objected to the use of sculpture as ‘architectural ornament’,78 his position on the need for collaboration between the architect and the sculptor was categorical: ‘I think architecture is the poorer for the absence of sculpture, and I also think that the sculptor by not collaborating with the architect, misses opportunities of his work being used socially and being seen by a wider public’.79
Similarly, British public bodies such as the Arts Council through their organisation of shows and the acquisition of Moore’s work added to his growing reputation. The extensive touring exhibitions of Moore’s work that were organised by the Arts Council in 1948, 1951, 1955 and later in 1968 led to increased critical acclaim as did Moore’s involvement in the two open-air shows of ‘Contemporary British Sculpture’ that toured the UK in 1957 and 1958.80 Starting in 1948 with their purchase of the drawings Seated Figure c.1933 and Woman Winding Wool 1948, the Arts Council collection was significantly expanded in 1963 when eight sculptures and eight drawings were added. The ICA, which had featured Moore’s work in group shows almost annually from its formation in 1946 and where he was a member of the Advisory Committee (1951–6), also played an important role is underscoring Moore’s prestige, not least by organising a solo show entitled Henry Moore: Drawings: Figures in Space 1928–53 in May–June 1953.81
Henry Moore OM, CH 'Recumbent Figure' 1938
Henry Moore OM, CH
Recumbent Figure 1938
Tate N05387
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
The widespread popular attention that Moore’s work attracted at home was complimented by a growing appreciation of it abroad where it was seen regularly both in private galleries and in numerous state-sponsored exhibitions. The support of the newly expanded British Council was pivotal to this success when it became clear that Moore’s work could play a crucial role in the cultural propaganda needed to reassert the sense of a political and cultural regeneration in Western Europe after the destruction of the war.82 As art historian Veronica Davis has demonstrated, the mobilisation of Moore’s work at the service of cold war politics was especially the case in British-occupied West Germany. In 1949–50 the British Council’s Henry Moore exhibition was shown in occupied Germany in Hamburg at the Kunsthalle and later in Dusseldorf at the Stadtischen Kunstsammlungen in spring 1950, as well as in Amsterdam at the Stedelijk Museum and in Berne at the Kunsthalle.83 The show registered the British government’s recognition of the need to compete with the French government’s energetic promotion of modern French art in its occupied zone as part of an urgent programme of de-nazification. After an initial refusal by the Tate Gallery to lend its large Green Horton stone Recumbent Figure 1938 (fig.3), Moore’s direct intervention secured its inclusion with additional assurances from the venues involved regarding its safety in passage and in their war bombed galleries. Moore’s success, especially in Dusseldorf where over 4,000 visitors went to see the exhibition, impressed upon the military chiefs and members of the British Council, the effective role that modern art could play in promoting British cultural values underpinning its cold war political imperatives. Additional exhibitions of Moore’s work at the Haus am Waldsee in Berlin in 1951, in Hanover, Munich, Frankfurt and Stuttgart in 1953 and in Mannheim, Bremen, Gottingen and at the Senate für Volksbildung in Berlin in 1954 illustrated how the sculptor’s work and art exhibitions in general could contribute to post-war cultural regeneration. This was confirmed by Moore’s participation in the 1955, 1959 and 1964 Kassel Documenta biennales that started from summer 1955.84
Perhaps the most influential exhibition for Moore’s career was at the 1948 Venice Biennale, the first one after the War, where he represented Britain in a solo show of sculptures exhibited alongside paintings by J.M.W. Turner.85 The British Council also organised exhibitions in Brussels and Paris in 1949; in Amsterdam, Hamburg, Dusseldorf and Bern in 1950 alongside many other European venues. Moore’s work was regularly featured in the open-air exhibitions and Sculpture Biennales held at Middleheim Sculpture Park near Antwerp that started in 1951.86 At the same time, Moore’s reputation was energetically promoted outside of Europe by the British Council who perpetrated a view of Moore’s sculptural forms with their inherent humanism as encompassing particularly ‘English’ qualities aligned to the nation’s ‘civilised values’.87 The British Council organised touring exhibitions in Australia in 1947, in South Africa in 1952, in Canada in 1955–8, in New Zealand in 1956–7, in Japan in 1959–60 and featured Moore’s works in the British section at the second São Paolo Biennial in 1953.88
However, it was in the United States, above all, that Moore’s reputation was most emphatically established through a growing network of influential dealers, galleries, critics, museum professionals and collectors. In 1936 Moore’s work had featured in Alfred Barr’s influential exhibition Cubism and Abstract Art at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, which had marked him out as a key member of ‘the younger generation’ of modernists and had raised his international profile.89 He had also displayed work at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. The seeds of his international success, however, were sown in 1946, when MoMA held an exhibition of Moore’s work that subsequently toured to Chicago and San Francisco. The MoMA show, the first one ever dedicated to a British artist, as Moore recognised, laid the ‘foundation where the international side of one’s career is concerned – that international thing happened through the Museum of Modern Art exhibition’.90
Moore’s ability to work easily with influential arts figures, notably MOMA museum professionals Dorothy Miller, René D’Harnoncourt and Alfred Barr, and to court influential art critics, collectors and patrons served him well. As Moore, who had been armed with letters of introduction from Kenneth Clark, recalled, ‘Of course I spent a good deal of time at the museum helping with the installation of my show but there was also a hectic round of socialising’.91 Moore’s American dealer Curt Valentin provided additional introductions to American collectors, allowing him to quickly grow a network of influential and important American contacts.92 Pauline Rose in her study Henry Moore in America (2014) has demonstrated that ‘a key factor in Moore’s success in America was that there was clear common ground between the aspirations of civic and commercial institutions which could be made visible through the display of one of his monumental sculpture’.93 By the end of the 1950s there was the largest concentration of his public sculptures in America and here his reputation as a provider of monumental sculptures for public locations, whether commissioned by private individuals or corporate patrons, increasingly blurred the line between civic and corporate purpose. The sculptural languages of his earlier pieces now resonated as an internationally available sculptural ‘Esperanto’, freed from the exigencies of political context.94
Back in Britain in 1956, Anthony Crosland published his blueprint for the future of the Labour Party in Britain titled The Future of Socialism in which he proposed that culture and the arts, like exports and economics, should now be seen as registers of national well being and a nation’s civilised values.95 Proposing a more ‘Europeanised’ approach to national culture, Crosland argued that: ‘We need not only higher exports and old age pensions, but more open air cafés ... more local repertory theatres ... more riverside cafés, more pleasure gardens on the Battersea model, more murals and pictures in public places, better designs for furniture and pottery, ... [more] statues in the centre of new housing estates.’96
Crosland’s ideas would inform the proposals adopted in the 1959 Labour Party election manifesto that placed the arts, education and culture at the centre of the Party’s policies and actively promoted the important role that the arts and culture could play in generating Britain’s future prosperity. Despite the Labour Party manifesto promising an annual £4 million increase in the Arts Council Grants and the establishment of the National Theatre among other social welfare, educational reforms and arts infrastructure investments, the Conservative Party was re-elected in October 1959. Launching the third consecutive term of office for the Conservatives, it seemed like the heady days of the 1945 Labour Party landslide had been long forgotten. The Conservative Government substantially recast the post-war political environment and national arts agenda within which artists worked. Although public expenditure had increased, it was largely in the commercial marketplace of private galleries, dealers and patrons, rather than through state-funded arts agencies or local authority civic projects and arts schemes, that artistic reputations were to be made.
The previous year, 1958, was identified by art historian Alan Bowness, writing in 1977, as a watershed year for Moore, marking ‘the beginning of a new, more personal, late period’.97 Bowness observed that ‘from this date forward, Moore has seemed more inclined to please himself, exploiting all the possibilities of working on a grand scale that were open to him as a successful sculptor, indifferent to fashion and caring little about what others might think’.98 In short, in 1958 Moore’s reputation as a sculptor and as a public intellectual underwent a remarkable transformation. The artist was seen in Britain and abroad after 1958 as one of its leading sculptors and honoured as one of its most prestigious cultural ambassadors; a position that would ensure in terms of museum holdings, private and public commissions, that Moore would become, arguably, the best known and most marketable twentieth-century British sculptor. Similarly, as curator Chris Stephens has argued, Moore’s major subjects – mother and child compositions, his family groups or his large reclining nudes – attracted international accolades, becoming ‘icons for the post-war social settlement’ and signalling an increasingly acceptable humanist language in which modernity and tradition were acceptably and creatively combined.99 Moore’s careful management of this transition from being an artist before the war largely dependent upon a few dealers and the private patronage of galleries, collectors and patrons to his war-time role in WAAC as a state-funded artist, to his immediate post-war role as a civic sculptor involved increasingly with state-funded arts organisations, the church and local councils for commissions, to one strategically mixing state-funded, private and corporate patronage for international clients and international organisations in the mid-to-late 1950s shaped Moore’s success.
Yet Moore’s commitment to public service through his active participation on the advisory committees of arts bodies, national galleries and international organisations, and his involvement in the public sphere shaping national imperatives in the arts in post-war Britain, although reflective of his left-leaning political views, could be interpreted as self-serving, marking out Moore’s careerist ambitions. And, indeed, it is accurate to note that these institutional roles helped Moore to establish a network of influential art world contacts and secure important clients and commissions for his work in ways that would enhance his national and international reputation. It is also the case that such platforms provided Moore with considerable opportunities for press and mass media publicity that similarly enhanced his professional profile. It needs be noted, however, that the period from 1945 to 1958 was, as Moore had told his Unesco audience, ‘a transitional age’. It was marked by growing differences in governmental politics and patronage systems that impacted greatly upon arts policies, upon populist aspirations and upon the roles that artists might claim to have or might effectively be able to play.
By 1958 the idealism associated with the 1945 Labour Government’s active democratisation of the cultural sphere, its expanded support for arts education and its increased state funding for museums, galleries, temporary exhibitions, sculpture parks and the optimism that powered the national celebrations of British culture on the scale of the 1951 Festival of Britain, had long diminished. These democratising initiatives had been replaced by the more elitist arts policies of three consecutive Conservative governments, which would remain in power until October 1964. While arguing for the importance of the arts to national welfare, by maintaining support for the operations of the Arts and British Councils and by pledging increased funding for museums, galleries and arts organisations, these Conservative governments, nevertheless, made the arts and artists less reliant upon state subsidy and local government funding. Instead, limited state support was accompanied by the need for artists’ active engagement with a market-driven, commercial art economy powered by the international private patron, the charitable trust and the corporate sector.100
Moore’s 1952 Unesco speech addressing the shifting interaction between the sculptor and society, and assessing the complexities of art patronage in the changed circumstances of the post-war decades and their effect upon the artist’s autonomy, was the last major public address he was to make on this topic. Moore must have realised that the conditions for artistic support and state patronage were shifting irrevocably, perhaps faster than even he could envisage. By the end of the decade, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation’s enquiry into the current state of the visual arts and artists in Britain proved the point decisively. Its 1959 report titled Help for the Arts concluded that ‘far too few people [in Britain] seem to recognise the place which the arts should play in the life of the nation as a whole’ with the consequence that ‘public taste is much less developed in this than in other spheres’ and in other nations.101 Prepared by Lord Bridges, the report highlighted a considerable ‘weakness of state patronage’ that was detrimental to the flourishing of the arts in Britain, and recognised that this shortfall had had a debilitating impact upon British art galleries and museums. It also recorded that ‘the challenging fiscal climate’ and high personal and company taxation in the UK had substantially reduced the capacity of individual and corporate patrons to purchase modern art.102
By this point, Moore’s national and international success had allowed him to expand considerably his list of civic and corporate clients away from any dependency upon the state-funded institutions, local councils or arts organisations of the United Kingdom. This diversified international patronage largely protected him from the impact of these altered art market conditions in Britain, and it allowed him to carefully select which commissions to accept and from whom for where. As Pauline Rose has shown, Moore’s primary market by the early 1960s was the United States where Moore ‘was the first choice amongst British, and often European, sculptors when a non-American was being considered for a prestigious commission’.103 In 1961 Alistair Gordon, writing in the June issue of Connoisseur magazine, relayed to its British readers the extent of Moore’s phenomenal American success. In an article revealingly titled ‘The British Council – International Impresario of British Art’ Gordon stressed that, ‘It is difficult for us in Britain to understand ... just how much Moore is revered abroad: he is considered quite simply as the greatest living sculptor’.104
This accolade had been attributed to Moore as early as 1945 when the art historian Nikolaus Pevsner had proclaimed him as ‘the greatest British sculptor now alive’.105 In his 1955 Reith Lectures, republished in his 1956 book The Englishness of English Art, Pevsner repeated the claim in answer to the question ‘Is England a visual nation? Has she been visual but is no longer?’ where he concluded that, at least, ‘there is Mr. Henry Moore, and with him England can boast the greatest living sculptor’.106 In the same year Herbert Read in The Art of Sculpture (1956) also applauded Moore as the pre-eminent post-war British sculptor.107 However, Moore’s reputation amongst leading American avant-garde critics such as Clement Greenberg, who held a special disdain for British sculpture, was not so secure. 108 By 1956 Moore’s place as Britain’s foremost sculptor was usurped, at least in Greenberg’s opinion, by Anthony Caro, an artist who, according to the American critic, ‘wanted sculpture to be able to stand up alongside the best art – not necessarily to have a place in the city’.109
Yet at the start of my period of examination in 1943, and even acknowledging Moore’s war-time popularity due to his shelter drawings, few critics, museum directors, collectors and artists – perhaps not even the artist himself – could have envisaged the celebrated figure Moore would become by the late 1950s and early 1960s. They could never have foreseen the rapid transformation in Moore’s international reputation nor anticipated the elevated prices that his monumental sculptures would secure on the art market as major artistic markers of post-war civic, political and corporate ambition and pride. These changing socio-economic conditions of patronage demanded, as Moore knew, ‘an adaptability or agility that was not required of the artist in a unified age’.110 In 1945, in the immediate aftermath of the horrific devastation of the war years, there was still the hope that, given the optimism and idealism generated by a newly elected Labour government and its commitment to expanded public ownership, British art and artists might thrive in a post-war state-funded arts culture that was more accessible, democratic and meritocratic than in the pre-war decades. As I have argued, Moore, at least in its early stages, was also committed to this social role for the artist as a producer of civic sculpture and he was an active participator on the newly formed art committees and advisory councils of the state-funded arts agencies, museums and commissions that would support and shape this ambition.


Henry Moore, ‘The Sculptor in Modern Society’, reprinted in Alan Wilkinson (ed.), Henry Moore. Writings and Conversations, Aldershot 2002, p.136.
Ibid., pp.136–7.
Ibid., p.139.
See Penelope Curtis and Fiona Russell, ‘Henry Moore and the Post-War British Landscape: Monuments Ancient and Modern’, in Jane Beckett and Fiona Russell (eds.), Henry Moore: Critical Essays, Aldershot 2003, pp.127–8.
For Moore’s involvement with the War Artists’ Advisory Committee, see Brian Foss, War Paint: Art, War, State and Identity in Britain 1939–1945, New Haven and London 2007, pp.75–7. For his relationship with Kenneth Clark and the War years, see David Alan Mellor, ‘Second World War’, in Chris Stephens and John-Paul Stonard (eds.), Kenneth Clark: Looking for Civilisation, exhibition catalogue, Tate Britain, London 2014, pp.101–3.
Geoffrey Grigson, Henry Moore, Harmondsworth 1943. The book is dated 1943 but was actually produced in 1944. For details of the print run, see Valerie Holman, ‘Reception: The Context of Reproduction and Dissemination 1925–50’, in Penelope Curtis (ed.), Sculpture in Twentieth-Century Britain. Volume 1: Identity, Infrastructures, Aesthetics, Display, Reception, Leeds 2003, p.132.
For the genesis of these commissions, see Margaret Garlake, ‘Moore’s Eclecticism: Difference, Aesthetic Identity and Community in the Architectural Commissions 1938–58’, in Beckett and Russell 2003, pp.183–90. For the Time-Life screen, see Peyton Skipwith, ‘Background Notes to Henry Moore’s Time-Life Screen’, Burlington Magazine, vol.131, no.1038, September 1989, pp.637–41.
See Brandon Taylor, Art for the Nation. Exhibitions and the London Public 1747–2001, Manchester 1999, pp.172–7.
Moore, ‘The Sculptor in Modern Society’, in Wilkinson (ed.) 2002, p.141.
Roger Berthoud, The Life of Henry Moore, London 1987, p.152. This argument is repeated by Margaret Garlake in her ‘Moore’s Eclecticism: Difference, Aesthetic Identity and Community in the Architectural Commissions 1938–58’, in Beckett and Russell 2003, p.174.
Labour Party Manifesto (1945), cited by Gary Whannel and Deborah Phillips, The Trojan Horse, The Growth of Commercial Sponsorship, London 2013, p.35.
See Robert Hewison, In Anger: Culture in the Cold War 1945–60, London 1981, 1988, p.xii.
Jeremy Lewison sees Moore’s interest in the family group, notably the first drawings for Family Group executed in 1943–4, not long after the publication of the Beveridge Report in December 1941 that set out the principles of the welfare state, as ‘entirely congruent with the times’. See Jeremy Lewison, Henry Moore 1989–1986, Cologne 2007, p.59.
John Rothenstein, letter to Antony Bevin, 1 July 1949, Tate Public Records TG 1/6/36.446.
Moore, letter to Naum Gabo, 23 May 1952, Tate Public Records TG 1/6/36.8.
See John Rothenstein’s letter to Moore about the Tate’s purchases of some of Giacometti’s sculpture in May 1953, Tate Public Records TG 1/6/36.21, and later on 27 June 1956, Norman Reid’s letter to Moore about the purchase of works by Cesar, Lehmbruck and David Smith, Tate Public Records TG 1/6/36.29.
See letter to Moore regarding the way sculpture should be displayed in the Tate Gallery and the use of spotlighting in the galleries, dated 18 January 1957, Tate Public Records TG 4/2/742/2.42.
Michael Frayn, ‘Festival’, in Michael Sissons and Phillip French (eds.), Age of Austerity 1945–51, London 1963, pp.319–20.
For Moore, Read and the Leeds Art Club, see Benedict Read and David Thistlewood (eds.), Herbert Read: A British Vision of World Art, Leeds 1993, pp.28–30, 77.
Robert Burstow, ‘Henry Moore’s “Open-Air” Sculpture: A Modern, Reforming Aesthetic of Sunlight and Air’, in Beckett and Russell 2003, p.162.
Henry Moore, letter to Arthur Sale, 30 April 1940, Imperial War Museum Archive, quoted in ibid., p.162.
See Margaret Gardner, Barbara Hepworth: A Memoir, London 1994, p.50. Sale is referenced by Burstow referring to a letter from Sale to Moore, 31 October 1942, Henry Moore Foundation Archive, p.161 and fn.89, p.170.
Dylan Thomas, letter to John Davenport, 25 April 1941, in Paul Ferris (ed.), The Letters of Dylan Thomas, London 1987, p.482. Quoted by David Alan Mellor, “And oh! The stench’: Spain, the Blitz, Abjection and the Shelter Drawings’, in Chris Stephens (ed.), Henry Moore, exhibition catalogue, Tate Britain, London 2010, p.57.
Quoted in Hewison 1981, 1988, p.35.
See ibid., p.74.
See Pauline Rose, Henry Moore in America. Art, Business and the Special Relationship, London 2014, p.13.
Moore also featured in Is Art Necessary? Encounters in the Dark dir. by Leonard Brett, 1958, a BBC ‘Monitor’ programme produced by Anthony Roland and broadcast in 1963.
See Andrew Stephenson, ‘Conditions of Display 1925–50’, in Curtis 2003, pp.121–2.
Rose 2014, p.4.
Jon Wood, ‘A Household Name: Henry Moore’s Studio-Homes and their Bearings, 1926–46’, in Beckett and Russell 2003, p.23.
See Foss 2007, pp.171–84.
Moore to Russell, 17 December 1961, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.264.
‘Art and Life’, part of a series titled The Living Image, and a radio broadcast of a panel discussion between V.S. Pritchett, Graham Sutherland, Sir Kenneth Clark and Henry Moore, Listener, 13 November 1941, pp.657–9, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.125.
‘Art and Life’, in Wilkinson 2002, p.125.
‘Royal Academy: Henry Moore’, review in Burlington Magazine, vol.130, no.1029, December 1988, p.944.
See Rose 2014, p.19.
See T.H. Marshall, ‘Citizenship and Social Class’ (1950), in T.H. Marshall and Tom Bottomore, Citizenship and Social Class, London 1992, p.33.
This sense of the artist using his art to forge a modern and more democratic sense of social consensus seems to underpin Moore’s rejection of a knighthood offered to him in 1950. As Moore put it, it was difficult to explain why he did not want it except to say that such ennoblement might ‘cut me off from fellow artists whose work has similar aims to mine’. Letter from Moore to Downing Street, 5 December 1950, quoted in Wilkinson 2002, p.69.
The Council of the Museums Association, Museums and Art Galleries: A National Service. A Post-War Policy, June 1945, unpaginated.
See Taylor 1999, p.170.
See Foss 2007, p.177.
Veronica Davies, ‘“Steering a Progressive Course?”: Exhibitions in War-Time and Post-War Britain’, paper given at the ‘Sculpture in the Home’ symposium, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, 5 December 2008, http://www.henry-moore.org/hmi/online-papers/papers/veronica-davies, accessed 5 May 2014.
See Foss 2007, p.181.
See Benedict Read, ‘Henry Moore and the Arts Council Collection’, in Henry Moore and the Arts Council Collection, London 2012, p.13.
Foss 2007, p.182.
The Visual Arts, (the Arts Inquiry), Oxford 1946. See Taylor 1999, pp.174–5.
Ibid., p.152.
See Robert Burstow, The ‘Sculpture in the Home’ Exhibitions: Reconstructing the Home and Family in Post-War Britain, Leeds 2008. The publication accompanied the exhibition organised by the Henry Moore Institute titled Sculpting in the Home: Re-Staging a Post-War Initiative, 2 October 2008–4 January 2009, at the Leeds City Art Gallery.
These shows were the Arts Council of Great Britain, Sculpture in the Home (1946), organised by Frank Dobson and touring through 1947; New Burlington Galleries, London Sculpture in the Home (Second Exhibition), 30 August–23 September 1950, organised by the Arts Council and touring to Newcastle, Leicester, Hull, Bristol, Southampton, Eastbourne, Scarborough, Falmouth, Stoke and Glasgow until 18 August 1951; Gloucester College of Art, Sculpture in the Home (Third Exhibition), 8–23 May 1953, organised by the Arts Council, toured Manchester, Coventry, Leeds, Warwick, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Newcastle, London New Burlington Galleries to 8 May 1954; Cambridge Arts Council Gallery, Sculpture in the Home (Fourth Exhibition), 15 November–6 December 1958, organised by the Arts Council, toured Cambridge, Cardiff, Salisbury, Nottingham, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Newcastle, Huddersfield and Harrogate to 26 July 1959.
Penny Sparke, ‘Domesticity in Post-1945 England and the Role of Sculpture in the Home’, lecture given at the ‘Sculpture in the Home’ symposium, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, 5 December 2008, http://www.henry-moore.org/hmi/online-papers/papers/penny-sparke, accessed 5 May 2014.
Tanya Harrod, review of ‘Sculpture in the Home’ exhibition at Leeds, Burlington Magazine, vol.150, no.1269, December 2008, p.847.
Jon Wood, ‘A Household Name: Henry Moore’s Studio-Homes and their Bearings, 1926–46’, in Beckett and Russell 2003, p.37.
For a full list of these open air sculpture shows, see Sandy Nairne and Nicholas Serota (eds.), British Sculpture in the Twentieth Century, London 1981, pp.241–4.
See Richard Calvocoressi, ‘Public Sculpture in the 1950s’, in Nairne and Serota 1981, p.140.
Henry Moore, ‘Sculpture in Landscape’, Selection, Autumn 1962, p.15, quoted in Wilkinson 2002, p.246.
J.B. Priestley, The Arts Under Socialism, London 1947, pp.17–18. I am indebted to Deborah Phillips for this reference and see Whannel and Phillips 2013, pp.36–7.
Grace McCann Morley, ‘Unesco and the Future of Museums’, Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs, vol.89, no.530, May 1947, pp.136–7.
Marshall’s arguments were republished in Marshall and Bottomore 1992. They are summarised by Richard Hornsey, The Spiv and the Architect. Unruly Life in Postwar London, Minneapolis and London 2010, p.11.
See Marshall and Bottomore 1992, p.33.
See Andrew Stephenson, ‘From Khaki to ‘Day-Glo’: British Art in Cold War Culture’, Art History, vol.22, no.5, December 1999, pp.767–74.
Gerald Barry, memo to Arts Council Secretary Miss Mary Glasgow, PRO, EL 6/23, quoted by Becky E. Conekin, ‘The Autobiography of a Nation’: The 1951 Festival of Britain, Manchester 2003, p.12.
Mary Banham, ‘A National Experience’ in Mary Banham and Bevis Hillier (eds.), A Tonic to the Nation’: The Festival of Britain 1951, London 1976, p.70.
Conekin 2003, p.9.
Adrian Forty, ‘Festival Politics’, in Banham and Hillier 1976, p.37.
Conekin 2003, p.36.
Mary Glasgow, letter to Henry Moore, 24 May 1949, quoted in Margaret Garlake, New Art/New World: British Art in Post-War Society, London and New Haven 1998, p.220.
Conekin 2003, p.228.
Hugh Casson, Image, Spring 1952, p.58, quoted by Conekin 2003, p.37.
Pooley, ‘Introduction’, p.4, cited in Conekin 2003, p.119.
Ibid, p.5.
Conekin 2003, pp.187–90.
Garlake 1998, p.218.
PRO, Work 25/232/E1/B2/4 ‘Open Air Exhibition of Sculpture, Battersea Park, London May to Sept 1951’, quoted by Conekin 2003, p.217.
See Paul Overy, ‘“Lions and Unicorns”: The Britishness of Post-war British Sculpture’, Art in America, September 1991, p.153.
See Richard Calvocoressi, ‘Public Sculpture in the 1950s’, in Nairne and Serota 1981, p.135.
For the London County Council’s patronage of art, see Garlake 1998, pp.228–32.
Moore, ‘Sculpture in Landscape’, p.15, quoted in Wilkinson 2002, p.246.
Henry Moore, ‘Sculpture in the Open Air’, p.2, quoted in Calvocoressi, ‘Public Sculpture in the 1950s’, in Nairne and Serota (eds.) 1981, p.136.
See Benedict Read, ‘Henry Moore and the Arts Council Collection’, in Henry Moore and the Arts Council Collection, London 2012, pp.13–14.
See Anne Massey, The Institute of Contemporary Arts 1946–1968, London 2014, p.88.
See Taylor 1999, pp.176–7.
Veronica Davies, taken from her lecture ‘“Simplicity and Seriousness, Vitality and Nature”: Touring Moore in Post-War Germany’, derived from her unpublished PhD thesis, ‘A Comparative Study of State Art Policies, Institutional Practices and Exhibition Design in Britain and Germany, c.1945–51, with particular attention to the Cultural Policies of the British-occupied Zone of North West Germany During these Years’, University of East London, 2005, pp.39–40.
For Moore’s impact in Germany, see Christa Lichtenstern, Henry Moore: Work–Theory–Impact, London 2008, pp.287–379.
See Sophie Bowness and Clive Philpot (eds.), Britain at the Venice Biennale 1895–1995, London 1995, pp.98–9.
Moore was included in many open-air sculpture shows including at Sonsbeek Park, Arnhem in 1955 and 1958, at Holland Park in 1957, and at Battersea Park in 1960 and 1963.
This interpretation of Moore’s sculptures ‘Englishness’ was established by Herbert Read in his Henry Moore: Sculpture and Drawings, London 1944, pp.xxiv–xxvi
For a full list of these exhibitions, see David Sylvester (ed.), Henry Moore. Volume 1: Complete Sculpture 1921–48, London 1957, 1988, p.xl; Alan Bowness (ed.), Henry Moore. Volume 2: Complete Sculpture 1949–54, London 1965, and Alan Bowness (ed.), Henry Moore. Volume 3: Sculpture 1955–64, London 1965, 2005, pp.10–12.
Alfred Barr, Cubism and Abstract Art, New York 1936, p.200.
Wilkinson 2002, p.68. Rose also stresses the importance of early purchases of Moore’s work by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, which, under the directorship of Gordon Washburn, had been acquiring work from 1939. See Rose 2014, p.73.
Wilkinson (ed.) 2002, p.66.
See Rose 2014, pp.75–8.
Ibid., p.2. See also Pauline Rose, ‘Henry Moore’s American Patrons and Public Commissions’, in Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity, 2015, http://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/henry-moore/pauline-rose-henry-moores-american-patrons-and-public-commissions-r1145958, accessed 09 September 2015.
This reading is indebted to Simon Faulkner’s unpublished PhD thesis, ’A Cultural Economy of British Art, 1958–66’, Manchester Metropolitan University, 1999, p.96, where Moore’s sculptures are seen provocatively as ‘cultural forms of progressive internationalism’ and ’a Unesco style of Art’ and Faulkner refers to an article in the Studio in October 1959 that proposed Moore’s sculpture of this period as constituting ‘a babble of tongues all speaking Esperanto from Milan to New York’.
Anthony Crosland, The Future of Socialism, London 1956.
Crosland 1956, pp.521–2, quoted in Whannel and Phillips 2013, pp.41–2.
Alan Bowness, Henry Moore. Volume 4: Complete Sculpture 1964–73, London 1977, p.8.
Chris Stephens, ‘Henry Moore’s Atom Piece: The 1930s Generation Comes of Age’, in Beckett and Russell 2003, pp.12–13.
See Robert Hewison, Too Much: Art and Society in the Sixties 1960–75, London 1988, pp.53–4.
The Bridges Report compiled by Lord Bridges, Diana Albermarle, Noel Annan and George Barnes was published as Help for the Arts: A Report to the Gulbenkian Foundation, London 1959, p.15.
Ibid. For a full account of this report and its implications for the British art scene, see Andrew Stephenson, ‘Painting and Sculpture of a Decade: 54–64 Revisited’, Art History, vol.35, no.2, April 2012, pp.425–7.
Rose 2014, p.1.
Alastair Gordon, ‘The British Council – International Impresario of British Art’, Connoisseur, June 1961, p.16, and quoted by Rose 2014, p.38.
Nikolaus Pevsner, ‘Thoughts on Henry Moore’, Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs, vol.86, no.503, February 1945, p.47.
Nikolaus Pevsner, ‘Architecture and Planning: The Functional Approach’, lecture 7 in ‘The Reith Lectures 1955: The Englishness of English Art’, broadcast 27 November 1955, BBC Home Service, http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/rmhttp/radio4/transcripts/1955_reith7.pdf, accessed 6 July 2014. The lectures were subsequently published as The Englishness of English Art, London 1956.
Herbert Read, The Art of Sculpture, London 1956, p.22.
Clement Greenberg’s ideas about Moore were set out in his review of Read’s book, published as ‘Roundness Isn’t All: Review of The Art of Sculpture by Herbert Read’, New York Times, 25 November 1956, pp.62–3. For the broader context of this argument between Read and Greenberg, see David J. Getsy, ‘“Tactility or Opticality, Henry Moore or David Smith”: Herbert Read or Clement Greenberg on The Art of Sculpture 1956’, in Rebecca Peabody (ed.), Anglo-American Exchange in Post-war Sculpture, Los Angeles 2011, pp.105–21, https://www.getty.edu/museum/symposia/pdf_stark/stark_getsy.pdf, accessed 19 May 2014.
‘Anthony Caro Talks about Henry Moore’, Modern Painters, no.3, Autumn 1988, p.11. My arguments are indebted to Overy 1991, p.154.
Moore, ‘The Sculptor in Modern Society’, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.137.
Andrew Stephenson teaches at the School of Arts and Digital Industries at the University of East London.

How to cite

Andrew Stephenson, ‘Fashioning a Post-War Reputation: Henry Moore as a Civic Sculptor c.1943–58’, in Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity, Tate Research Publication, 2015, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/henry-moore/andrew-stephenson-fashioning-a-post-war-reputation-henry-moore-as-a-civic-sculptor-c1943-r1151305, accessed 24 April 2024.