Artworks
Recumbent Figure
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rzarlif's picture

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Recumbent Figure is life-size and lovely to walk around- soft and curvy, peaceful and strong, with the trademark Henry Moore hole.

The gap in the middle of the leaning woman's body creates a kind of infinite loop, so she has no beginning or end. Though the gaiping hole just under a set of perky breasts is a bit worrying at first sight. The German army gassed a young Moore in WWI, at the Battle of Cambrai. Maybe this is a lingering war-trauma thing?

Moore’s explanation is different and pretty cool. "The first hole made through a piece of stone is a revelation," he enthuses. "The hole connects one side to the other…[and] can itself have as much shape or meaning" as the rock out of which its carved. "Sculpture in air is possible, where the stone frames the shape."

The piece was made to sit on the terrace of architect Serge Chermayeff’s house, overlooking the rolling Sussex Downs. Chermayeff abandoned the house just before WWII broke out, for a life in the U.S. But Moore was happy with the lesson he had learned. "I became aware of the necessity of giving outdoor sculpture a far-seeing gaze. My figure looked out across a great sweep of the Downs, and her gaze gathered in the horizon. It had its own identity and did not need to be on Chermayeff's terrace, but it, so to speak, enjoyed being there."

Moore bought the piece back from the architect and then sold it to the Contemporary Art Society, which gifted it to the Tate. The museum's director, however, declared that Moore would enter the Tate over his dead body. He retired (a professional death of sorts) and now we get to enjoy it being there!