Lines, Shades, and Forms - The Art of Henry Moore: Our local Sculpture Garden is hosting an exhibition of the works of British sculpture artist Henry Moore (1898-1986). Friday afternoon I went to the exhibition expecting once again to be baffled and befuddled by what has been to me the chaotic randomness and charade of abstract art and sculpture. I don't know if it's because I'm getting old or I am finally beginning to understand a little bit about modern art, but I found this exhibit more enjoyable then some others. But I think that was also due in part to the nature of Moore's work as presented in this exhibit.
In terms of sculpture, Moore combined landscape and the basic human form. He took his inspiration from the things around him in nature; a mountain cliffed coastline, the skull of an elephant, even leftover soup bones. His medium was more traditional in the sense he avoided the "welded scrap metal" look of other modern sculptors. He was still abstract in the sense that his forms were deliberately made with gaps and missing parts; a torso without a chest, incomplete legs, and under proportioned heads, all suggestive of a landscape where the subtleties of lines and forms incompletely mimic the reclined human form that was the focus of much of Moore's sculpture.
However, it was not so much the sculptures of Moore that caught my eye as it was his charcoal sketches. Moore believed that an artist could not be a good sculptor unless they were first good at drawing and sketching. He had little use for sculptors who could not or did not draw or sketch. Much of his own work started with sketches and drawings, not blueprints as such, but a rendering of the lines and shades that combined to make the form.
It was those lines and shades that caught my eye; lines and shades drawn in minute detail, put together composing a form recognizable as rock, hill, crevice, and cliff. I saw in those sketches a subtle nuance of shade and lines that was to me, just incredible. As good as his sculptures may be, I would gladly have some reproductions of some of those charcoal sketches hanging in my den or office.
For those of you who may be interested, here is a link to the Henry Moore Foundation. There are some pictures there of his sculpture work, but I didn't see any of his sketches there. If I come across some on the WWW, I'll add that link here.
~ The Billy Goat ~