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In the last year of his life, Henry Moore commented on the complexity of summarizing the motivations behind an artist and his work:
It is impossible to turn to a single influence in any work of art, it can only come by the development and experience of a lifetime combined with all these influences. And then it is only the truly great artists who can emerge to create their own individual style. Then with the artist's own ideas and abilities one hopes that an added vitality will be embraced within the work he produces. But nobody can say where that added force comes from other than it comes from within the artist himself...Who is to tell if an experience which occurred yesterday, or ten years ago, or a lifetime ago was an influence or not? I can't (quoted in A. Wilkinson, Henry Moore Remembered, London, 1987, p. 37)
The following sculptures (lots 488-499), from The Art Institute of Chicago, lend insight into Moore's lifetime of experiences and influences that left an extensive and imposing legacy in 20th Century sculpture. The selection of works vary in medium, subject matter, date and scale, offering a rare glimpse into an in-depth and discerning museum collection of a single artist's work.
Many of the bronze sculptures in the collection date from the 1950s, a pivotal period in the artist's career that produced some of his most iconic and celebrated works. The birth of his only child, Mary, brought a highly personal and sentimental component to his work and urged him to explore interconnectedness both emotionally and spatially in his sculpture, producing such powerful works as Maquette for Mother and Child with Apple (lot 490) and Mother and Child: Uncrossed Feet (lot 496). His works also took on a more organic quality, as he was influenced by natural materials such as bones, shells, pebbles and flint stone as evidenced in the fluted skirt of Reclining Figure No. 5 (lot 489) and the biomorphic figures in Three Motives against Wall No. 1 (lot 491).
By the 1960s, Moore's widespread critical and financial success allowed him to utilize more ambitious and exotic materials in sculpting, as well as work on a more monumental scale. Upright Form (lot 497), carved in an opaque, ethereally-striated white marble, shows the artist's move toward abstraction and exploitation of symbolism. Franco Russoli explains the duality of realistic representation and abstraction of form in Moore's work:
He wanted to express the vitality of the universe: the harmony between the mysterious existence of nature and the secret current of man's primary feeling--tenderness, passion, energy--in simple powerful forms (in Henry Moore Sculpture, London, 1981, p. 13).
Photograph of Henry Moore in his studio at Much Hadham, 1978)
Sold by the Art Institute of Chicago*
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