Drawing on Henry Moore

“[Drawing] is a deep, strong fundamental struggle to find oneself…”

–Henry Moore

When we think of Henry Moore, we think of his sculptures that reinvent the human body, undulating forms of women and children, often with holes or cavities. Of maybe we think of the 1991 film, The Object of Beauty, in which Moore was played by John Malkovich.

The Bowdoin College Art Museum is exhibiting his drawings, and while some may be preparatory for the sculpture, they are worth seeing on their own. In fact Moore believed that a drawing should be more than just a plan for fulfilling a three-dimensional work.

Moore never abandoned the life-drawing practice he had initiated as a student in Paris in the 1920s. If Moore’s sculptural subjects (his reclining figures, for example) furnished him with constraints in which to work, drawing offered him opportunities to refine his “ideas for sculpture” but, just as importantly, to digress from them.

On paper, Moore worked in an exceptionally diverse variety of media ranging from chalk and crayon to pen and ink, often all in the same drawing.

In his drawings, the line seems to take over, and the form creates itself, something totally new and not seen in nature, like the biomorphic forms of Kandinsky.

After viewing the exhibit, and wanting to “own” some of the images, I browsed in the bookstore and discovered an entire book created from one of Moore’s sketchbooks. It is entirely filled with drawings of sheep, and they are shown in every possible way, just by altering the line and how it is used. No doubt about it, Moore has found himself in drawing.

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