Henry Moore was born 30. 07. 1898 and lived for 88 years. Moore would have prioritised his art over his academic study. After numerous visits to the ethnographic collections of the British museum, Europian modernist; i. e Picasso, Arp, Brancusi and Giacometti became influences. Uniting these inspirations was a deeply felt humanist. He often used abstract form to draw comparisons between the human body and landscapes. Moore’s images of figures sheltering in London subway stations sheltering during World War II are still loved.
Moore loves drawing from the human figure ‘studied it for half my life’ he quoted. Moore believes that our bodies help us understand nature and are the biggest influence on art. ‘If our bodies were the sizes of elephants, the whole scale of architecture and art would be different. ’ Moore loves landscape as well as figures, ‘if landscape was different, all of our lives would be different. You can’t get away from nature. ’ He believes that it is ridiculous for something to have no real connection to real life and nature.
During the 1930’s, Moore became experimental with abstract and was inspired by surrealism. Surrealism shaped his mature style; it encouraged his love for biomorphic forms and also suggested how the figure could be split into parts and reduced to essentials. Henry Moore takes natural/ realistic things and uses abstract form to rearrange and magnify them to show hidden quality. Moore’s etchings are quality to viewers because of the expression and liveliness they carry each appropriate to what the image is.
In the 1960s Henry Moore became so intrigues by the skull of an African elephant kept in the garden of his friends that eventually they gave the skull to him, Moore examined the object’s internal and external features through a number of etchings. When Moore published these works, he called them “a mixture of observation and imagination,” as while he studied and drew the skull up close he “could begin to see in it great deserts and rocky landscapes, big caves in the sides of hills, great pieces of architecture, columns and dungeons. What we know as hidden qualities. This is an etching from Henry Moore’s elephant skull portfolio.
Concaved and convex areas are shown through darker and lighter tones; he creates the darker tones with lots of dark lines (using cross hatch perhaps), however, in the lighter areas, Moore uses less lines going in the appropriate direction to the shape of the image. The direction of each line is very important, if Moore wanted to enhance a certain part of the image or give it 3D quality, he could use the directions of lines according. Moore uses lines varying in shape, length and direction; this makes his etchings expressive, free and lively but organised enough to make sense.
This makes his work incredibly effective to look at. This piece has great definition in shape thanks to the directions of his lines, the amount of lines also make it look so effortless which proves that Moore is being expressive; this gives huge effect to the viewer. The composition in this etching of Moore’s is a centre view with a slight side angle on the elephant skull, looking at his other etchings of this skull, the front is not the most detailed but it is not the least effective. It gave Moore opportunity to show expression and freedom in the directions and shapes of his lines.
The eye is taken up through the centre to the eye sockets of the skull, this is because Moore’s lines are directing towards that centre line which is directing to the cows eye sockets. It is a full frame therefore the skull is the main focus of the etching as there is no detailed background. Moore’s work doesn’t vary in colour. He uses natural tones (black, grey and white), these give a simple, earthy look of the natural world. This is more than appropriate towards the etchings in which Moore creates, as it keeps them realistic and not too abstract even though they do deceptively have abstract features and hidden qualities within them.
Moore still has the ability to represent warmth and coldness in his etchings despite the lack of colour; as the colder etchings i. e. the elephant skull have less heavy lines to create the cold affect, whereas warmer etchings i. e. his etchings of figures sheltering in the subway create a warm affect for the viewer. The lack of bright colour in Moore’s work is effective, keeps it unique, extremely recognisable and still keeps the sense of reality and natural world Moore believes in.