Even when a famous artist's critical reputation has fallen on bad times, it's rare that the negative side of the legend finds its way into an elegantly designed and copiously illustrated monograph like Henry Moore: Sculpting the 20th Century
. Yet those who deride the "civic trophy" aspect of Moore's ubiquitous bronze figures may reconsider their verdict in light of the perceptive arguments presented here by eight art historians. The scrutiny of Moore begins with the question of known and possible sources for the early blocky seated figures of the '20s, inspired by his fascination with African, Oceanic, and pre-Columbian sculptures. After investigating Moore's experiments with surrealism in the '30s, the text discusses the poignant drawings of people huddled in Underground stations during World War II that brought his work to the attention of a wider public.
The criticisms of Moore's work began when he shifted from the "truth to materials" embodied in his stone, wood, and cast-concrete figures to working in bronze and marble. Beginning in the early '60s, a younger generation of artists questioned the validity of his metaphors and his team of assistants. Critics singled out his repetitive forms and his failure to create site-specific work. ("I think you should make something that is right anywhere," Moore responded.) Yet the inherent warmth and tactile quality of Moore's often curiously androgynous figures has proved irresistible to many. This book is the catalog for an exhibition organized by the Dallas Museum of Art. --Cathy Curtis
From Publishers Weekly
Making its case right from the title, Henry Moore: Sculpting the 20th Century argues for the popular English sculptor's continued primacy. Edited by Dallas Museum of Art curator Dorothy Kosinski, and serving as the catalogue for an exhibition currently touring the U.S., the book covers the artist's entire career, from his early primitivism to his 1930s surrealism to his post-war public art. Photos of over 120 of Moore's suggestively abstract plasters, carvings, bronzes and drawings grace the pages of the book, along with scholarly essays from Moore proponents.
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