Official website of the Foundation Juan March

HENRY MOORE. GRAPHIC WORK


10 November 2008 – 14 February 2009

Plate X

Plate X, 1970
© Photograph: Antonio Zafra

The exhibition presents three series of prints – Meditations on the Effigy, Elephant Skull, and La poésie - by Henry Moore, considered the most important British sculptor of the 20th century. In these series Moore explored the themes that most interested him: the reclining female nude, mother and child figures, and studies of animals and other animate objects. Moore had depicted these subjects in his sculptures but in the second half of his long life he increasingly represented them in drawings and prints, the latter being the least known area of his oeuvre.

The present exhibition includes 12 lithographs and 2 etchings in colour and black and white from the series Meditations on the Effigy, published by Marlborough Gallery in London to celebrate the artist’s 70th birthday in 1968. It also features 28 black and white etchings published in 1970 by Gerald Cramer entitled Elephant Skull. These were inspired by the monumental elephant’s skull given to the artist in 1966 by the biologist Sir Julian Huxley and his wife Lady Juliet. The skull fascinated Moore who based his print series around it.

The series of lithographs La poésie, published in 1976 by the Art et Poésie Association of Bibliophiles in Paris, includes 7 colour lithographs produced by Henry Moore and Stanley Jones at the Curwen Studios in London. The album was originally commissioned to illustrate poems by a group of French poets selected by the French president Georges Pompidou, but Moore did not receive the texts until a late date and thus chose his own motifs. He turned to his favourite themes: standing and reclining figures, female portraits, ideas for sculptures, stone forms, etc. To create these prints Moore used the Diazo lithography technique that involved drawing the motif in black ink on a piece of film then transferring it to lithographic stone using ultraviolet light. He used the same motif on various different stones with differing intensities and tonalities depending on the length of exposure.

Upright Motifs

Upright Motifs, 1966
© Photograph: Antonio Zafra

Henry Moore (Castleford, Yorkshire, UK, 1898 – Perry Green, Hertfordshire, UK, 1986). Son of a mining engineer, from 1916 Moore worked as a teacher, giving classes in the primary school that he had attended. He served in the Prince of Wales own Civil Service Rifles in World War I and was wounded in combat. In 1919 he attended classes at the Leeds School of Art on an ex-serviceman’s grant. Two years later Moore was awarded a grant to study in London at the prestigious Royal College of Art where he was a professor until 1931, at which point he moved to Chelsea School of Art, becoming head of the sculpture department. In the 1920s Moore studied the sculpture of other cultures in the British Museum in London and also travelled to various European cities, completing his artistic education. In 1926 he held his first solo exhibition and in 1930 participated in the Venice Biennial. His work was harshly received by critics, who considered that he distorted the proportions of the human figure, but in 1948 he was awarded the International Sculpture Prize at the Venice Biennial, resulting in international recognition. Moore’s large-scale bronze and carved marble sculptures helped to introduce Modernism into Great Britain. He is considered the most important British sculptor of the 20th century and one of the most significant of that century on an international level. Henry Moore died in 1986.