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Henry Spencer Moore
Dates: British, 1898 - 1986
Biographical Account:

Henry Moore was born in Castleford, Yorkshire on 30th July 1898


Moore became a student teacher at his old elementary school in Castleford, but in 1917 he was called up to fight in France. He witnessed the terrible experience of a major German assault on his regiment where 400 men were reduced to 52. Moore himself suffered from gas poisoning and was invalided back to Britain. Like many men who experienced the war, he spoke little about this but the memories show in his work.


In September 1921 Moore arrived in London where he studied sculpture at the Royal College of Art. He was fascinated with the sculptures in the British Museum and he was influenced by primitive art and non-western traditions.


During the World War II Moore abandoned sculpture and started drawing. He was an Official War Artist and captured the huddled Londoners sheltering in the tube stations during the Blitz. They illustrate the mass of skeletal figures huddled together in a nocturnal world. The shelter drawings transformed his reputation, bringing success in England and internationally.


Moore used a combination of wax crayon, watercolour and pencil, laying down the crayon and then flooding the image with dark watercolour, so the white and grey wax shapes loom out of the darkness. The marks themselves are scratchy and wiry, which helps to create a sense of unease and tension.


Moore had a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1947 and represented Britain at the Venice Biennale in 1948 where he won the International Sculpture Prize.


Moore created the Henry Moore Foundation in 1977, which is a registered charity to encourage the public appreciation of the visual arts, and in particular the works of Henry Moore. Its main responsibilities are preserving Moore’s work for future generations, funding exhibitions and research at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds; and awarding grants to arts organisations in the UK and abroad.


Moore accepted a seven-year contract as a sculpture instructor at the Royal College of Art. This teaching post, for two days a week, gave him enough to live on and develop his own work.


Moore died at Perry Green, Hertfordshire on 31st August 1986.



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