Tomorrow is the 22nd anniversary of the death of British sculptor Henry Moore (1898-1986). At the request of reader Katie, we'll take a look at the life of the man "generally acknowledged as the most important British sculptor of the 20th century," whom TIME magazine described as the man who "put modern sculpture on the map."
1. Both World War I and World War II greatly impacted Henry Moore's life. Moore had just graduated Castleford Secondary (later Grammar) School at the onset of WWI. At the request of his headmaster, he designed and carved a Roll of Honour to include the names of all his former classmates who were entering the war. Moore himself served for two years with the Civil Service Rifles in the 15th London Regiment, during which he was gassed at the Battle of Cambrai. Nevertheless, "the war passed in a romantic haze of trying to be a hero." In 1940, during a WWII bombing raid, Moore's studio in London was hit, forcing him to move out of the city. He was appointed as an official war artist and, because materials were scarce, mostly drew instead of sculpting. His drawings focused on the Londoners sheltering from the bombs in the Underground stations.
2. Moore trained at Leeds School of Art from 1919 to 1921 on a rehabilitation grant he received after being injured during WWI. At the Leeds School, Moore was the first student to pursue sculpture. He then was awarded a scholarship to the Royal College of Art in London, which he began attending in 1921. He later returned to teach at the Royal College, as well as at the Chelsea School of Art.
3. Two of Moore's sculptures commemorate scientific achievements. "Man Enters the Cosmos" was commissioned to recognize the space exploration program, while "Nuclear Energy" commemorates Enrico Fermi's experiments. "Nuclear Energy" was unveiled at the University of Chicago, at the location of the original experiments, exactly 25 years to the minute after Fermi and his team achieved the first controlled, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. Moore hoped viewers would walk around "Nuclear Energy," "looking out through the open spaces," and that they "may have a feeling of being in a cathedral."
4. In 1951, Moore turned down a knighthood, because he didn't want to be perceived as an "establishment figure" or have it cut him off from fellow artists. He did, however, accept many other honors and awards throughout the years.
5. At the height of his career, Moore was quite financially successful. By 1977, he was paying approximately Â£1 million per year in income taxes. So, in 1972 he set up the Henry Moore Trust to protect his estate from death duties and, five years later, he created the Henry Moore Foundation, partly to ease his tax burden but also to promote and advance the arts.
A larger version of "The Family Group" (photograph taken by Andrew Dunn) is available here.
Fans should check out Moore's galleries on Wikimedia, the NGA, and Bluffton University; the BBC's tour of Moore's house; the Guardian's interview with his daughter Mary; the Tate's 3D model of "Recumbent Figure;" and this YouTube "documentary-style video."