Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity

ISBN 978-1-84976-391-2

Public identity

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
Moore was conscious that in the modern age artists lacked the defined structures of patronage and the public role they had often enjoyed in earlier societies. In his concern to establish a civic identity for himself and his art he willingly embraced the opportunities provided by the growth of new forms of state, corporate and private patronage in postwar Britain to communicate with a general public. He was keen to locate his sculptures in council estates and public parks as much as in more conventionally prestigious settings.
His working class origins and his willingness to champion the welfare state helped align him with the prevalent values of the postwar western societies. He was promoted abroad as the embodiment of Britain’s modernising image, and found himself taken up in America in part because, during the era of the Cold War, his work could be seen as embodying the values of individual and humanism.
Moore readily seized the opportunities provided by mass media, notably television, to disseminate his ideas and artistic vision to a broad audience. He also collaborated with various photographers to create books that gave insights into his working life. These helped to frame for a general public how he wanted his work to be viewed and understood.

How to cite

‘Public identity’, in Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity, Tate Research Publication, 2015, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/henry-moore/public-identity-r1175678, accessed 21 February 2024.