Less is Moore.

In reading in The Art Newspaper about the recent restoration of a late Henry Moore sculpture in Berlin, I was reminded of a trip I made to his studio in Perry Green, Herts, about 20 miles north of London in the late 1970s. Moore was still alive. His property was dotted with temporary greenhouse-like buildings made of wood and plastic. The weather there was so mild that it was possible to erect these buildings around a work-in-progress.

Henry Moore's Plastic Studio. The one I saw was made with plastic sheeting and was not even this permanent.

In one building there was a large block of white polystyrene. Moore approached it like faux marble, carving it with an electric knife. These feather weight sculptures were then pointed up into stone or cast in bronze. This seemed to be a brilliant solution, that allowed Moore, who must have been in his eighties at the time, to work directly in a material at full scale and not on a small maquette. The final piece would have all the markings of his hand.

Plaster version of Working Model for Spindle Piece 1968-69 in progress Moore working on polystyrene version of Large Spindle Piece 1968-69

I was a bit surprised when I met Moore. He was quite short, perhaps not even taller than me, and I am only 5’5″.

In one of the older more permanent studios there was a piece that had been pointed up by sculptor Isaac Witkin, when he was an assistant to Moore. It was moving for me to see this, as I was studying with Witkin at the time and I felt the age old connection of master and student reaching back through history.

One of the older, more permanent studios.

If you go:

Henry Moore at Perry Green

Virtual Perry Green

3-D Panorama of Prints and Portfolios

Some Books of Interest: