Henry Moore (1898 – 1986)
« The secret of life is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for the rest of your life. And the most important thing is, it must be something you cannot possibly do. »
Henry Moore was the most important British sculptor of the 20th century, and the most popular and internationally celebrated sculptor of the post-war period.
Non-Western art was crucial in shaping his early work – he would say that his visits to the ethnographic collections of the British Museum were more important than his academic study. Later, leading European modernists such as Picasso, Arp, Brancusi and Giacometti became influences. And uniting these inspirations was a deeply felt humanism.
He returned again and again to the motifs of the mother and child, and the reclining figure, and often used abstract form to draw analogies between the human body and the landscape.
Although sculpture remained his principal medium, he was also a fine draughtsman, and his images of figures sheltering on the platforms of subway stations in London during the bombing raids of World War II remain much loved.
His interest in the landscape, and in nature, has encouraged the perception that he has deep roots in traditions of British art, yet his softly optimistic, redemptive view of humanity also brought him an international audience.
Today, few major cities are without one of his reclining figures, reminders that the humanity can rebound from any disaster.
Seated figure against curved wall boston, 1956-57, MFA Boston