tv Democracy Now LINKTV May 23, 2012 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
(narrator) henry moore was the world's foremost sculptor for 40 years. his creative legacy in many ways exemplifies the cultural ambitions of his time. he was every bit as surprising and complex as his art, a miner's son who refused a knighthood, a sculptor who caught the public's interest with his drawings, and emrary artt with a common touch. (henry moore) recently, there was a book published on my work by some jungian psychologist, a very good writer named nauman. i think the title was the archetypal world of henry moore and he sent me a copy, which he asked me to read. but after the first chapter i thought i better stop because it explained too much. and i thought it might stop me from ticking over if i went on and knew it all. (narrator) moore was english to the bone,
he carved his reputation in english elm and boxwood, cumberland alabaster, and portland stone. when his art made him wealthy he turned to bronze and marble, but he never turned away from england. for all its rain and taxes was home, and he cleared a new path for english art. (anthony caro) you look at the history of english art, and it's pretty miserable after constable and turner and so on, and henry, somehow, was competing with braque and picasso and so on. you know, he was in that same league. and so it made people realize you can be an artist - and you can be english. (narrator) sculpture made him famous, his celebrity enshrined in wax at madame tussaud's. other celebrities bought his works and enjoyed his company. (dorothy kosinski) i actually think that one has to consider quite seriously a very intriguing dilemma, and that is whether an artist's sense of direction and value and worth
is that potentially obscured by fame? (narrator) henry moore was born in the mining town of castleford in 1898. his career began in 1921 when he left yorkshire with a scholarship to study at the royal college of art in london, a bastion of academic formalism. but he found his real inspiration on the other side of london at the british museum. he visited twice a week for years, drawing objects from the museum's vast ethnographic collection, and drawing inspiration from them that would have a lifelong impact on his work. (henry morre) primitive art makes a straightforward statement. its primary concern is with the elemental and its simplicity comes from a direct and strong feeling,
which is very different from being simple for the sake of being simple, which only leads to emptiness. (narrator) moore's student work wasn't always well-received. one royal college professor declared: "this student is feeding on garbage." the student was unapologetic and went to paris in 1922 to experience modern painting and sculpture firsthand. he was thunderstruck by the monumentality of the figures in czanne's baths. "the figures," he said, "appeared to be sliced out of mountain rock." two years later moore graduated and joined the royal college sculpture faculty, a post that gave him three days a week for his own work. and he looked hard at the work of contemporary artists like constantin brancusi, whose radical reduction of the human form would help to define the path of moore's sculpture. he found a kindred spirit in an older contemporary, the american expatriate sculptor jacob epstein, a passionate advocate of truth-to-material
and the bold forms of tribal art. moore had his first one-man show in 1928. it won him favorable reviews and an important friend, the influential critic herbert read, who admired moore's direct carving and the organic evolution of his forms. later in 1928, another coup: the architect of the new london transport headquarters selected seven sculptors to decorate the building. one of them was jacob epstein, moore's mentor. epstein recommended moore, who completed west wind in january of 1929. later that year, moore created his first masterpiece, bringing together his disparate sources in a single powerful work. it signaled a preoccupation that would consume him throughout his working life: the reclining female figure. i think what we see most clearly in that figure from leeds is the impact of a single object
that really captured his imagination from ancient mexican art: the chacmool figure, and that really provides him with fodder, with inspiration, throughout his career. he carves figures which have a very peculiar positioning of the upraised knees together, but also the position of the head - a very alert, peculiar, eccentric position of the head, sort of away from the body, seemingly to emphasize that sense of the block of the stone. the "stoniness" - that's the word he used - the stoniness, the blockiness, the sort of rough eloquence of ancient mexican statuary. (narrator) in 1930, moore wrote: "the sculpture that moves me most is full-blooded and self-supporting. its forms are completely realized and work as masses in opposition. it is strong and vital, giving off something of the energy of great mountains."
(narrator) with success came increased self-assurance. in the summer of 1929, he married irina radetzky. moore stopped teaching and began to concentrate on his own work, and he sought out the leaders of surrealism. he met pablo picasso in paris. the ideas underpinning works like picasso's figure carrying a stone began to filter into moore's sensibility, emerging as the four-piece composition. alberto giacometti was also an influence. the swiss sculptor was exploring an abstract style - part biology, part geometry - in works like woman. moore responded with a carved, abstracted head. he continued to explore surrealism and its exploration of what lay beyond the boundaries of logic and reason. moore joined the loose association of british artists who were influenced by surrealism. he showed works in the international surrealist exhibition of 1936 in london.
but he was not quite a card-carrying surrealist. henry moore took from the continental avant-garde of his day whatever he liked the look of, and he played with it visually and turned it around to his own ends. in the '20s and '30s, he is at the experimental learning phase of his career. he is a major artist all his life - so even when he's learning, he produces major work. but that is a crucial period of experiment, both of innovation and also of synthesizing available options. (narrator) he was intrigued by the work of the french artist jean arp and his exploration of the border between abstract and natural forms. the american, alexander calder, was also exploring those borders. his works struck a powerful chord in moore. the critic geoffrey grigson, noting the delicate balance
in his work between surrealism and abstraction, called moore's work biomorphism. the term biomorphism suits moore absolutely perfectly because it signals that his preoccupation is poised somewhere between the surreal and the abstract. and it also describes beautifully the sense that we have in moore that the organism has laws of growth of its own. it's following some kind of universal law but it's not a species that we know. (narrator) throughout his long working life, moore collected natural forms and kept them near his workplace. he placed his own works side by side with objects that caught his eye: bones, shells, and flints. his own habits coincided with surrealism's interest in the found object and the creative possibilities of unexpected juxtapositions.
the fusion of front and back, internal and external spaces, had been one of moore's goals since the early '30s. tunneling holes through heavy masses was a theme that preoccupied him for many years. in the late 1930s, he merged mathematical models he had seen at the science museum in london with early surrealist forms, leading to a series of stringed pieces. the works were a breakthrough for moore - literally. he punched through the masses and looked through strings in a new way that allowed him to see forms within forms. that interplay between the interior and exterior fascinated him. he explored it in several works and photographed them from several angles to gauge the impact of different perspectives. throughout the '30s moore sifted new influences and folded them into his preoccupations with the human figure,
seeking out the abstract in shapes drawn from nature. one of the most crucial elements of his work and an aspect of his development that really reveals him as a tremendously radical, innovative sculptor are his tabletop sculptures. we look at these works and the titles tell us "reclining figure" but what he's really done is reduce the figure to an assemblage of independent elements. (narrator) the second world war introduced a dark strain into moore's work, but the war also created new and unexpected opportunities. the rationing of materials necessary for sculpture sigh aeeling ofartionawin cl newly appointed director of the war artists' advisory committee
and a friend since the mid-thirties, commissioned moore as an official war artist. clark was attracted to moore's shelter drawings, huddled figures of civilians taking refuge in london's underground stations from the nighttime bombing. his duties as a war artist also took him back to castleford to the same pit his father had worked in, to document the miners' contribution to the war effort. carvat wk on qte a differt nd of on filled his sketchbooks. the drawings were subtle works of art, done in a mixture of pen and ink, crayon, pencil, and gouache. they were published in book form and caught the eye of a younger generation of artists, including bruce nauman. bruce nauman) they were sorimitive in t materials well as the images. i think th we very stron for me to look at because i was interested in drawing and then his use of crayon and gouache or watercolor was such a kindergarten use of media
(nra ias the rtim ine ed pece british people, reached a new and wideaudience. thatasde19 -enaing thprocess that creathe shelter awings. (narrator of documentary) on almost any night during a raid this figure might have been seen wandering about: henry moore the sculptor. here, perhaps, was the one artist most capable of immortalizing the stoic endurance and suffering of these people. (narrator) forty-seven years old at the end of the war, henry moore was talented and charismatic, perfectly poised to become britain's leading artist. a retrospective exhibition at the museum of modern art in new york in 1946 gave moore a foothold in the international arena.
the exhibition moved on to chicago, san francisco, and australia. but moore's private life was far from glamorous. he'd found peace and a new home in the pastoral countryside of hertfordshire near the villagef much hadham. it gave him space to work on lger pieces and to show em outdoors. his life was attuned to the optimism of a britain eager for peace and renewal after six years of war. the birth a daughter in 1946 was followed by a series of works evoking family life. some critics began to detect a retreat from the groundbreaking pre-war work into sentimentality. in 1948, the london county council commissioned his first large work: the seven-foot-tall three standing figures of batterseaark.
despite moore's growinputation, the more cutting-edge ttersea figures unsettled a lot of people, including the painter alfred munnings, president of the royal academy, who voiced his criticisms on bbc radio. (sir arthur munnings) the sculptors today are sinking away into a fashion. you saw these things exhibited in battersea park, and god help us if all the race of women looked like that. (audience laughing) (narrator) munnings was t last major british utional voice to criticize henry moore's vision. the british council, founded to promote the nation's art and artists internationally, selected moore to represent britain at the venice biennale in 1948. he won the first prize for foreign sculpture. there were other great artists who were either, seems to me, at the tail end of something or were too idiosyncratic to market internationally
in the way that moore really seemed to fit with the modern movement across europe and the world. so an agency like the british council, looking to promote british culture and a new view of britain as a great power but coming to terms with the aftermath of the second world war, would listen to these voices telling them that moore is the great artist around at the moment. (narrator) that international stature permitted moore to work on a larger scale, a dream since the early '30s. he could now afford to hire assistants, including anthony caro, who would go on to a successful career of his own, with works like the national gallery ledge piece, installed in 1978. i thought he was the most interesting sculptor around. and really, i went to ask him if i could work with him, work for him, because i'd had too traditional a studentship.
a studentship, really, where we were taught by people who thought that art was about nymphs and fawns and generals on horses and that. i used to drive him into london from much hadham and we'd talk about art. we'd have little conversations about, you know, "did you go to the national gallery today?" "what did you see?" "what did you like?" "why did you like it?" "did you like that better than that?" things like that. play games like that. (narrator) his public persona continued to grow, he was articulate and eager to make the case for his art to a wider audience on bbc television. tell me about this one over here on the left. oh, this is mexican, as well, but of a different culture from the other. and i think a very fine piece. the head, in particular, is what moves me very strongly. i think it has such a presence with it
and a kind of almost hypnotic power. and perhaps, in the background, that may have had some connection with the head of the king in the king and queen group of mine, that i made five or six years ago. (narrator) by 1955, moore had been a major sculptor for 25 years. his stature made him the logical choice to create the central figure on the grounds of the unesco headquarters in paris, a massive reclining figure carved from travertine marble. sixteen-feet-long, it was the largest work he had ever done. moore's postwar work did occasionally venture into darker thematic territory. the warrior with shield, his head gashed, his arm severed, recoils in horror - a meditation in bronze on the human cost of war. in this variation on the mother and child theme, the brutal encounter is matched by the sculpture's rough surface.
in the '60s, the number of public commissions grew steadily, and his role as the acceptable face of contemporary sculpture was assured. his works also grew. he began to work increasingly in bronze, meum he'd rst ex '30 its grstngth allowed him toone his exploration ofoids alows beyond the endurance of stone and wood. hilargbronzes gan to ap in front of instu the houses of parliament in london and the german state chancellery in bonn. moore became a friend of helmut schmidt, the west german chancellor. moore's works were selected for universities and palaces of culture, including lincoln center in new york. at the pinnacle of his career, moore had outlived the antagonists of the previous generation, charmed the media, and silenced the critical voices of his day. the next generation of artists was more skeptical.
(anthony caro) i remember an article which came out soon after i'd left him, where i was interviewed by somebody, and it was headed, the greatest living englishman. a lot of young people were very irritated by it, by the feeling that henry was getting too much attention. (narrator) and the times were changing. the '60s pop artists andy warhol and roy lichtenstein shunned the previous generation's idealism to engage with popular culture, ti w and irony gh than idealism. minimalists like dan flavin developed a severe, abstract style that intrigued critics and artists. suddenly, henry moore seemed old hat. british artist bruce mclean, a student of anthony caro, created a series of photographic parodies, placing his own body in positions that mocked moore's reclining figures. there's this sense of moore the artist, moore's work, perhaps even being obscured
by list upon list of commission and prize. certainly, he was very proud of that. he always claimed to be somewhat perplexed by all the attention, and he certainly did evolve into an artist celebrity. i mean it's very rare that a sculptor's face graces the cover of time magazine. (narrator) bre nauman created several works referring to moore: seated storage capsule for henry moore, henry moore bound to fail, and light trap for henry moore. (bruce nauman) it somehow had to do with capturing some sort of essence or ghost of henry moore. when i had done a few commissions or been asked to do a few commissions and none of them worked out, and i'd put in quite a bit of effort, and then nothing ever happened. so i talked to claes oldenburg about how, i asked him how he set up his situation so he, did that happen to him or what happened?
so he told me how he set up contracts to get paid at various stages of the work, and that anybody could get out from under the deal if they wanted to, but at least you weren't left with nothing. and the other thing he said is: "you have to remember that no matter what they tell you, they're looking for a medium-size henry moore on a base." (narrator) if young sculptors were frustrated by living in the long shadow he cast, architects like i. m. pei were dazzled by the man and the monumentality of his sculptures. henry. welcome. (narrator) pei incorporated moore's knife-edge mirror two piece into his designs for the national gallery in washington in 1976. his working relationship with i. m. pei continued. in dallas, moore's three forms vertebrae was set in front of the city hall. completed in 1978, it was his last major public work. then in his 80s, henry moore worked on as long as his health allowed him to.
he died in 1986 and was buried in the much hadham parish churchyard. some critics still wonder if moore's remarkable success mighhaept ting his in newer directions. others disagree. oh, i thinmoore's success was alys good for hi it may be bad for his reputation, but it wasn't bad for him, his ego, and the ego that was needed to make his work. success was needed in order to fuel the possibilities of a work that appeals to every man. (narrator) henry moore's legacy is still being debated, but what he achieved is beyond controversy. the early works combine a poetic gift for carving and a respect for craftsmanship that drew inspiration from a world wider and older than europe. his fascination with the body
and the play of internal and external forms inspired radical abstractions, part dreamscape, part landscape. his later works, more ambitious in size, are essays in the old tradition of making art for public spaces, written in the new language of modernism. they bridged a gulf between contemporary art and popular taste that gratified henry moore, who came to see art as a public service as well as a private calling.
of about 100 paiings and oil sketches, gather from collections around t world. born in 1599, van dyck's remarkable career took him from s native flanders to italy, and then to england as court painter to charles i, before the artist's death there in 1641. representethll range o van dyck's artistic creation, which allowed us to realize the imposing sle of many of his compositions, react to the sensuous color, and perceive the touchf the artist in the rich brushwork. the painngs themselves came alive. in this program, we'll try to recreate the experience of the exhibition itself, moving through the various phases of van dyck's career and discovering his magnificent art. van dyck's earliest family portrait sets the stage
for our look at the artist's life and work. itas painted in 1619 in anerp, when van dyck was only about 20 yearsld. in this close-knit group, we sense intimacy and informality. the child looks up at h father, who leans protectively toward his young wife and daughter. this deep sympathy for families would be one of van dyck's great contributions to the art of portraiture. in 1609, when van dyck was only 10 years old, he apprenticed with a painter in his native city of antwerp in the southern netherlands. by the time he was 16, his skill and talent allowed him to join the workshop of leading artist of the day, peter paul rubens. rubens' complex compositions, such as these with their sculpturally modeled figures, greatly influenced the young artist. but even in van dyck's earliest works,
we see the artist's ow distinctive style emerging. he painted this scene of st. jerome when heas about 16. instead of the heroic figures of rubens, van ck chose to show the hermit saint as a man past s prime. though van dyck based his composition on a work by ruben thyounartist painted it difrently, applying his paint thickly with rough, broken strokes, exaggerating the naturalism of the biblical scene. in another version of the same subjec painted just a few years later, van dyck portrays st. jerome in yet a diffent mner. in a moment of deep religious fervor, the saint is about to strike his chest in penance ( oir singing ) this intert in psyogical intensity, human emotis, and cral momen wou mark v dyck'wo ughout h career.
van dyck again looked to a work by rubens for inspiration. but once again, he interpreted the story in his own manner. van dyck chose t represent the moment just before the philistine clips samson's hair and robs him of his strength as delilah andhe oer conspirators watch anxiously. the composition may have seemed too compressed to a later owner: a strip was added along the upper edge to enlarge the pictorial space, effectively releasing some theonalnergy of thecene. thiexhibition, we discored that changesere often made to van dyck's works. another ofhe artt's early religious paintings, "moses and the brazen serpent," was also altered, as we can see by comparing the size and format of the painting to a contemporary copy.
compositional changes were also made by the painter himself. these pentimenti can be seen in van dyck's "martyrdom of st. sebasan by looking close, it is possible to see a vague indication of the rider'soot as the artist originally placed it. diovering this change helped to establish the authenticity of this oil sketch and to identify it as van dyck's preliminary study. it sho the original position of t soldier's foot. over time, the surface paint became translucent, alwihe artist's earlier solution to become vible. in 1620, v dk spen four mons in england. there, he painteportits, such as this fanciful allegocal image of t duke buckinghamand bride. more snifintly van dy made contac on his return to ant, he painted these portras,
which once againevealed thyoung artist's sympathy for children and his unique sensitivity to the psychological character of his sitters. van dyck painted this portrait of rubens' wife as a parng gt r hior, tir garn. inhe fall of 11, vadyck leftwerp snd six yrl in italy the poet compositis and rich brushwork of the 16th-century master titian appealed to the flemish artist, as did his penetrating portraits. in a sketchbook that he kept as he traveled, van dyck recorded works by the venetian artist. these drawings would later provide ideas and inspiration. the influenctitian had on van dyck's interpretation of the figure
is evident in van dyck's painting of george gage, an englishman who was in italy to acquire wks of ar gage's by not froal but inead turns in spa, making the composition bold and lifelike. the artist's own character and his attitude toward his art are revealed in this marvous self-portrait, painted shortly after van dyck's arrival in italy. as a contemporary wrote, "his manners were more of an aristocrat and he was resplendent in his rich dress and accessories." the young painter looks out at us, self-assured, certain of his position and confident in his ambitions. during his stay in the prosperous port city of genoa, van dyck received nurous commissions from its patrician society for portraits, as well as for mythological and lerical enes. thesare infused th a rical quity ve different from compositions hhad made
elegce and grace learned from titian marked theortraits van dyck created araize hi genoese patrons, including his remarkable image of the marchesa lena grimaldi. the marche seems to stride out onto a patio. n dyck introduces a new sense of movemt to whaha a traditionof rigidy . van dyck's genoese portraits were intended to be hung up high, over doors in palaces. because they were ewed from a distance, the artist painted them very thinly and very quickly. here, van dyck suggests the intricate fabric ofheng b's inoarokeofedndte, painted directly over the ochre ground.
the mothern ofe solemn d a. the boy poses confidently, yeevenis aristoatic portrt van dyck introduces a delicate tenderness. at the end of 1627, van dyck returned to antwerp. the rtraits he painted during this period reflect the solid bourgeois character of theters. van dyck'sortraits reve stle aspects of hisitters' complex personalitie in paired portraits, between huands and wives, and, once again, the relationship between parents and children. a wonderful naturalism marks van dyck's paintings during ts period. thfigures very much alive.
this portrait of the butiful maria uisae tais is infed with an air of ease and informality. her marvelous, captivating gaze conveys the vibrancy and warmth of her being. this effect of immediacy is underscored by van dyck's fluid brushwork, the way he paints her fashionable costume-- the slit sleeve and the delicate ribbons with their slight touches pinks, blues and yellows. large-scale religious works were in demand by chches in antwerp, where the counter-reformatio had a ronghold anars met inspire deep invvement vadyck chose to focus on st. augustins reaction to his mystical vision.
thsaint els ck, experiencing a moment of religious ecstasy before a vision of the holy trinity. by the wonderful angels that hover above holding symbols of god's power, uny and eternity. van dyck's religiousls works from this period encourage devotion with their intimate, tender images. intimacy and tendeess sofuse v, "rindo and armida." inspired by a 16th-century epic poem, the artist again chose to represent a romantic rathertha.
a water nymph has lulled one of the warriors to sleep armida, , sweeps in to kill the helplessero, but instead she falls deeply in love. commissied in 29 the work commemoratede 'sa. van dyck was invited to england. inngland, van dyck created works that conveyed the king's role as divine monarch and that, with his french queen henrietta maria, omoted an image of peace and harmony. in this double portrait of the king and queen, henrietta maria offers charles the laurel wreath of victory.
she lds an oli sprigreprese. these symbols alluded to the stability of their reign. an unusual portrait representing the monarch from three different positions was intended to be sent to the italian sculptor gian lorenzo bernini as a model for a bust of the king. van dyck's skill is evident not only in the sensitive characterization of the kin, t also in trtment ofhe erateostumes. the thrert comsition seems to be infused with religious symbolism. it suggests the holy trinity's three persons in one god and conveys charles' claim to rule by divine right. in london, van dyck established large workshop to produce the enormous numbf portraits demanded by thcrow he also worked for other members of the court andristocracy
paintings of the earl of arundel, robert rich, and james stuart reflect the ambitions of van dyck's patrons as well as the courtly ideals of the time. 1634, thertist returned tohe southernetherlands, hoping for more prtigious history commissions and perhaps an appntment as crt painter. there, he produced this magnificent equestrian portrait of the provisional governor,th. a more introsptive character pervades an image the prce's advisor, the abbe scalia. van dyck portrays him as a commanding individual, experienced yet world-weary. at the artist's busy workshop, subjects posed for only a short time. they would leave behind costumes or armor
so van dyck could complete the painting at his own convenience. around the head of scalia, we can see a kind of halo marking the area the artist painted from life. scalia himself commissionedthin as an altarpce for a urch in antwerp. it is van dyck's last surviving religious painting. in a constricted format, he presents the dead body of christ and ptures the full pathos of mary's intense sorrow. ter spending about a year in fl van dyck returned to england in 1635 to resume his responsibilities as court painter forharles i. the tist cho an unusual oval format to emphasize the bond betwn enon porter...and himself.
each rests a hand on a rock in the foreground, suggting the firm foundation of eir lostanng fridship. van dyck's onlremaining mythological work from his english period, probably painted for the king and qen, is this wonderful poetic image representing the myth of cupid and psyche. psyche, a autiful mortal, was sent by venus to the underworld to meet with persephone and bring back a box containing the secrets of her beauty. when the curious psyche opened the lid, she fellnto a deathlike trance
van dyck depicts the moment cupid discovers her and reacdown to wipe the sleep from her eyes. ilawake to fall in ve with pid and be raisetoimmortitb. e of the most poignant of all of van dyck's paintings isiesh porait ofwoen brought together to share a tragic loss. om kilgrew rests his arm on the base a brokecolumn, symbol of fortitude and de a ague that d ged loon had claimed his young wi. in her memore bounr wedding ring to s ist and pinned cross over h heart. in an image as eloquent as an elegiac sonnet, van dyck includes the wife's brother in the composition, as if to offer solace to kiegrein his deepest gef.
van dyck portrayedhe english court as it saw itself, but the urt's ideals gave way to harsh realities. by the end of the 1630s, scotland was in revo and the rule of charles i was threatened. ofan dycs last works ests the osen by charles the earl of strafford. ortly after van dyck coleted this work in the spring of 1640, the political situation in england reached a crisis in 1641, the roy familywaforcee the earl of strafford was executed and civil war broke out. van dyck, himself in ill health, died later that same year at the age of only 42. the artist's legacy, his elegant portraits the ialtic glish urt and cotis--
van dyck's most faus works-- would influence painters for generaons. here we have discovere only a few of the paintings from van dyck's remarkable career: ambitious compitio fm his early years in antwerp; works produced during his six-year sojourn in italy, marked by the elegance and grace; magnificent religious paintings tend mytholol wos;or the engli, as well as images that served to define the english court for future generations. van dyck's portraits revealed the artist's unique sensitivity to the character of his sitters, his ability to capture the innocence of children, and to suggest bonds between family members.