Moore at Bonhams

An outstanding bronze with brown patina of a ‘Working Model for Two Piece Reclining Figure:Cut’ by the renowned artist, Henry Moore will be sold at Bonhams sale of 20th Century British Art in New Bond Street on Wednesday 12 March 2008.

moore.jpgConceived in 1979, towards the end of Moore’s life, Working Model for Two Piece Reclining Figure: Cut, demonstrates Moore’s consistent ability to innovate and to create works whose hallmark is supreme technical and visual finesse. One of Moore’s finest skills as sculptor is his aptitude for controlling the effects of light across the surface of his work. In this work, light is truly exploited as it rolls across the undulating forms of the bronze to articulate the reclining female figure. Estimated to fetch £300,000-500,000, the work will be sold on behalf of the Estate of Charmaine and Maurice Kaplan – the proceeds benefiting the University of California in San Diego, USA.

For more than two decades, the Kaplans helped some of the leading cultural and educational organizations raise money for building projects or productions. The couple displayed endless dedication to the growth of the university and the betterment of the San Diego community. During their 35 years of marriage, Charmaine and Maurice Kaplan were recognized for their extensive art collection that ranged from paintings to arts and crafts to sculptures – including the present work by Henry Moore.

Henry Moore was undoubtedly one of the most influential British sculptors of the 20th Century. This reputation was secured on his talent to push the boundaries of sculpture and engage with the visual dialogue of the international avant-garde in the early 20th Century. Along with the motif of the mother and child, the theme of the reclining female nude obsessed Henry Moore and played a central role to the development of his sculpture through his career as an artist. It says something of the artistic imagination and ingenuity of Moore that he was able to address these two primal subjects time and again, every time with renewed vigour.

It was in the 1930s that Moore’s reputation as an artist was truly established. It was in this decade that Moore was secured as part of the international avant-garde, and during which he embraced abstraction. It was also the decade that the hole became a central feature of Moore’s work. By the end of the 1970s, as with the present work, Moore had extended the idea of the hole to an actual physical break or cut through the bronze itself, creating works of two or more pieces. The realisation of the reclining form into two or more pieces has been described as Moore’s ‘final great innovation.’

In ‘Working Model for Two Piece Reclining Figure: Cut’ the sculpture is produced in two distinct parts. Individually, the two bronze forms seem perhaps to be grounded in the organic shapes of flint as found in nature. Moore frequently found inspiration from such elements of nature, adding pieces of clay to found bits of bone or stone and using these as a starting point to model his ideas. Some of the most monumental reclining figures and mothers and child were developed organically from such humble roots.

The work is one of an edition of nine which are just under 100 centimetres long. Of this edition, only one has previously been seen at auction, nearly twenty years ago in 1989. One work can be seen in the collection of the Henry Moore Foundation and currently on view at the exhibition at Kew Gardens.