Henry Moore (1898-1986)
Henry Moore (1898-1986)
Henry Moore (1898-1986)
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Henry Moore (1898-1986)
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Henry Moore (1898-1986)

Girl: Bust

Henry Moore (1898-1986)
Girl: Bust
Roman travertine marble
Height: 24 ½ in. (62.2 cm.)
Length: 14 ½ in. (36.8 cm.)
Depth: 8 1/8 in. (20.7 cm.)
Conceived and executed in 1975; unique
Private collection (acquired from the artist, June 1979).
Pace Gallery, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner, February 1998.
D. Mitchinson, ed., Henry Moore Sculpture with Comments by the Artist, London, 1981, p. 315, no. 562 (illustrated in color, p. 271).
A. Bowness, ed., Henry Moore: Complete Sculpture, 1974-1980, London, 1983, vol. 5, p. 26, no. 671 (illustrated, pls. 52-53).
London, Fischer Fine Art Ltd., Henry Moore the Carver: An Eightieth Birthday Tribute, Carvings from 1923-1975, June-August 1978, no. 16 (illustrated).

Lot Essay

Nature may appear symmetrical sometimes, but it never is. Everybodys face, for instance, is asymmetrical. If you took the two halves of a persons face and reversed them, you’d get a different person.” - Henry Moore (quoted in A. Wilkinson, ed., Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, Berkeley, 2002, p. 219)
Carved from a single block of Roman travertine marble, Henry Moore’s unique sculpture, Girl: Bust, is a superb example of his late work, epitomizing the artist’s ability to conjure a recognizable figure from rounded, geometric forms. Although his art oscillated between the abstract, the organic and the figurative, his best work, including the present example, contains elements from all three. The artist has commented: "Abstract qualities of design are essential … but to me of equal importance is psychological human element. If both abstract and human elements are welded together in a work, it must have a fuller, deeper meaning" (quoted in ibid., p. 133).
Moore intended for Girl: Bust to be experienced in the round; her form appears to change as the viewer moves around her. A sinuous curve delineates her cascading locks, and a single, spherical breast orients the observer to the front of her body. Four meticulous holes, as if the buttons of a blouse, appear on the far side—challenging our first orientational impression. “Sculpture should always at first sight have some obscurities, and further meanings. People should want to go on looking and thinking; it should never tell all about itself immediately” (Moore, quoted in ibid., p. 199).
Moore was well aware of the physical constraints of working in bronze, and carving marble held a renewed importance for the artist in his late works. In 1963, he took a holiday home in Forte dei Marmi in Tuscany, and it is not without coincidence that he subsequently chose to spend his summers in Italy, close to the renowned Italian marble quarries. Describing travertine marble, the sculptor said that it was “a stone that I have loved ever since I first used it in 1932. I like its colour and its rough, broken, pitted surface” (quoted in ibid., p. 223). The porous quality of the marble in Girl: Bust reveals a juxtaposition between the careful chiseled marks that are her eye, nipple and buttons in the present work, and its natural, inherent cavities, which cover much of the surface. The travertine marble’s perforated skin provides an attractive patterning and the pale flesh-tones in the stone of Girl: Bust imply a sense of inner life, of blood flowing beneath the surface. Moore praised travertine marble as ”ruddy, powerful, strong. You feel like you haven’t got to handle it with kid gloves” (quoted in ibid., p. 223).
For Moore, the human presence was both innate and subjective, alive within the material itself and shaped by the history of human experience. "As the piece of stone or wood I carve evolves from the first roughening-out stages it begins to take on a definite human personality and character," he observed. "A more active relationship gets going, which calls upon the same sort of feelings one has about people in real life. And to bring the work to its final conclusion involves one's whole psychological make-up and whatever one can draw upon and make use of from the sum total of one's human and form experience" (quoted in ibid., p. 126).

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