Room 3: Modernism
Moore’s sculpture underwent considerable stylistic transformation during the 1930s. Composition 1931, which opens this room, marks a progression from literal descriptions of the female figure to more abstract, allusive and suggestive forms. His themes remain consistent – in this case the subject originated in the earlier Suckling Child 1930 – but an emphasis on sensuous undulating surfaces and subtle protuberances invest his sculptures from this period with an erotic charge. Moore had previously acknowledged the erotic intensity of African carving, yet the more overt sexual associations revealed in his sculpture during this time are contemporaneous with modernist ideas of the body and subconscious urges identified in the psychoanalytic writings of Freud and his followers. In this Moore was close to Surrealism, and his abstracting and fragmenting of the figure became increasingly emotionally charged. He found creative freedom in Surrealism’s ‘surprise and discovery’ and in its ‘opening out and widening of man’s consciousness’. For a time, his sculptures became more geometric, but Moore also began to look to natural objects for inspiration and, working with pebbles and bones, introduced an air of darkness into his work with associative ideas of erosion and decay.