Henry Moore (1898-1986)

Biography

Henry Moore was an English sculptor and artist. He was best known for his abstract monumental bronze sculptures which are located around the world as public works of art.

His forms are usually abstractions of the human figure, typically depicting mother-and-child or reclining figures. Moore's works are usually suggestive of the female body, and his forms are generally pierced or contain hollow spaces. Many interpreters liken the undulating form of his reclining figures to the landscape and hills of his birthplace, Yorkshire. Moore was instrumental in introducing a particular form of modernism to the United Kingdom.

Moore was born in Castleford, West Yorkshire, the son of a mining engineer. Henry was the seventh of eight children in a family that often struggled with poverty. He decided to become a sculptor when he was eleven after hearing of Michelangelo's achievements.

After serving in the First World War Moore received an ex-serviceman's grant to continue his education, and in 1919 he became the first student of sculpture at the Leeds School of Art, which set up a sculpture studio especially for him. At the college, he met Barbara Hepworth, a fellow student who would also become a well-known British sculptor, and began a friendship that lasted for many years. In 1921, Moore won a scholarship to study at the Royal College of Art in London, where his friend Hepworth had gone the year before. While in London, Moore extended his knowledge of primitive art and sculpture, studying the ethnographic collections at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum.

During the Second World War, Moore was commissioned as a war artist, notably producing powerful drawings of Londoners sleeping in the London Underground while sheltering from the blitz. In 1948, Moore won the International Sculpture Prize at the Venice Biennale and was one of the featured artists of the Festival of Britain in 1951 and documenta 1 in 1955.

In the 1950s, Moore began to receive increasingly significant commissions. With many more public works of art, the scale of Moore's sculptures grew significantly and he started to employ a number of assistants to work with him. Henry Moore died on 31 August 1986, at the age of 88, in his home in Much Hadham, Hertfordshire.