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Room: Henry Moore

This video brought to you by Tate.org.uk

Chris Stephens takes a look an iconic character in British art, the artist's relationship to Tate, and the work he crafted for a post-war society.

Learn more about the art featured in this video:
- Henry Moore, Reclining Figure, 1951
- Henry Moore, Family Group, 1949.
Created by Tate.

Want to join the conversation?

  • leaf green style avatar for user Camille @ Tate
    As some of you may have noticed, there is a glitch in this video causing it to black out from -. We'll have a replacement video up as soon as it's ready.
    (7 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user The Q
      Can you tell me about the two sculptures in Toronto,Canada? There is 'The Archer' at the New City Hall, and the other is at the Art Gallery of Ontario, The name of which escapes me. I always forget he's not Canadian (or is he?) These pieces really represent Toronto for me.
      (2 votes)

Video transcript

we set out to establish these Henry Moore galleries because it seems shocking that there was no permanent display of the work of Britain's greatest sculptor in the capital the first smaller room looks at the relationship between Henry Moore in the tape one of the key artists relationships the gallery had this second room then focuses on more as a public figure it brings together a small number of his key post-war sculptures and most notably the work behind me the plaster for his reclining figure that was in the center of the festival of Britain in 1951 the 1951 reclining figure was part of Henry Moore's great gift to the Tate it's the original plaster for a bronze that was commissioned by the Arts Council to go at the center of the south bank site of the festal a Briton the key moment in post-war Britain a celebration of Britain's recovery after the war actually the sculpture caused some consternation at the time because for many this hollowed out skeletal figure quality that's even more noticeable in the plaster version seemed to speak of of suffering and emaciation rather than than something more celebratory and affirmative if you look closely at the surface of this sculpture you'll see the surface is decorated with pieces of string glued on to the plaster showing the volume of the figures using these sort of continuous curving lines to suggest the curvature of the body and they probably derived from Henning halls drawings during the 1940s he secured his reputation with his famous drawings of people sheltering in the underground and he's done that again here using this pieces of string before the reclining figure one of Henry Moore's key post-war sculptures with his family group and again they came out of his shelter drawings that he had focused repeatedly on the motif of the mother and child or the parents and a child in the underground in the post-war period the Fanny became a very powerful metaphor for the new society that was being established him more very much became the artist of the post-war Britain that was being established with the welfare state in the National Health Service and the family was repeatedly used as an image of a communitarian Society all of maules post-war sculptures were made at his house and studio in Perry Greene in Hartford sure but the the earlier pieces like the family groups were made at a time when his existence there was much simpler as much smaller there are lovely letters from more to friends in 1940 saying we're renting this house Hoagland's we may stay here a little while and of course the house and the houses around it became part of Moore's world and are still part of the Henry Moore Foundation here in Henry Moore's maquette studio where he took inspiration for almost all of his sculptures and if you look around you you see all the bones and stones and Flint's and seashells that inspired him as well as spare parts for figures like in this cupboard see there's both little heads and he could start a maquette and change the head these already have little pencil markings for eyes no matter how abstract the sculptures are the origin was always a natural form Moore worked on a really small scale and the sculptures are small enough so he could hold in his hand he could turn he could imagine them any size but only about one in ten were actually made into bronzes we know the big pieces in public spaces but they all started off very very small sometimes the vision was big even on a small scale you know and he did say that monumentality doesn't have to do with scale it's the vision behind the work one of the things we wanted to draw out in these 2 henry moore galleries was the artist process we tried to get to the essence of more through these fairly simple displays conscious that there are many of his works on public display elsewhere in london and also just outside London at the Henry Moore Foundation in Perry green in the landscape that he loved and to some extent shaped and also in the context of the studios in which they were developed you