Exploring the formative years of Britain’s most celebrated sculptor

Exhibition and symposium explore formative years of Britain's most celebrated sculptor

The Henry Moore Foundation's latest exhibition - Becoming Henry Moore - charts the artist's creative journey from gifted schoolboy to established sculptor.

The exhibition presents Moore's earliest works alongside those that inspired him, including works by British contemporaries, the European avant-gardes and examples of African, Aztec and Cycladic art.

New research relating to the exhibition will be presented in a symposium organised in collaboration with the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. The opening keynote will be delivered by one of Britain's most exciting contemporary sculptors, Tony Cragg, at the Paul Mellon Centre on Friday 16 June. On Saturday 17 June, the symposium moves to Moore's former home at Henry Moore Studios & Gardens in Hertfordshire for a full day of talks. Speakers will explore the work, education and inspiration of Henry Moore and his contemporaries, including Barbara Hepworth and Ossip Zadkine. Please visit our website for the full programme and abstracts.

Henry Moore in 1928

Becoming Henry Moore

Henry Moore Studios and Gardens, Perry Green | 14 April – 22 October 2017
Henry Moore Institute, Leeds | 30 November – 18 February 2018

The exhibition Becoming Henry Moore provides an insight into the influences at play in the mind of Britain's foremost modern sculptor during his formative years. The exhibition also highlights the acts of generosity that supported Moore's artistic development. His talent was spotted at a young age at school in his West Yorkshire home town of Castleford by a progressive headmaster, 'Toddy' Dawes, and an encouraging art teacher, Alice Gostick. Moore's first exposure to contemporary art was on the pages of journals supplied by Miss Gostick.

After World War I Moore received an ex-serviceman's grant to attend Leeds School of Art. As a student in Leeds, Moore gained privileged access to original works by Matisse, Van Gogh, Gaugin and Kandinsky. It was also in Leeds that Moore first encountered non-Western art in Roger Fry's Vision and Design, which proved to be a lifelong fascination and artistic influence.

When Moore arrived in London in 1921, to take up his scholarship at the Royal College of Art, he was exhilarated by the buzz of the city that left him in a 'dream of excitement.' Whilst Moore abided by the curriculum, which focused on copying classical Western art, he spent much of his spare time amongst African, Aztec and Cycladic sculpture in the British Museum and devoured books in the reference library of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Trips to Paris and Italy provided further sources of inspiration, from the modern master Paul Cézanne to the great artists of the Renaissance.

During the 1920s, Moore synthesised all he had learned to develop his own distinctive style. Turning away from the traditional curriculum of the Royal College, Moore embraced non-Western art and the sculptural ideas promoted by the avant-garde. Immersed in an exciting circle of artists, including Jacob Epstein and Leon Underwood, Moore was encouraged to trust his artistic instincts.

After a decade of experimentation, Moore had arrived at some of the now iconic themes that would dominate his work for the rest of his career: the reclining figure, the mother and child and the opening up of sculptural form.

Henry Moore in 1977


Friday 16 June | Reception & keynote address by Tony Cragg

Venue: Paul Mellon Centre, 16 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3JA | Time: 6pm

Saturday 17 June | Symposium papers and discussion

Venue: Henry Moore Studios & Gardens, Perry Green, Hertfordshire, SG10 6EE | Time: 10am - 4pm

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