We condemn the war and support Ukraine in its struggle for democratic values.
We also encourage you to join the #StandWithUkraine movement by making a donation at this link
Alberto Giacometti and Henry Moore

Alberto Giacometti and Henry Moore preserved their creative mobility and have never been afraid of abandoning a felicitous solution for the sake of a new one that is perhaps better or more complete. Success and fame have not overwhelmed them: the work, both in the process of working and its product, is more important than success. Giacometti and Moore have revised many of their judgments and preconceived ideas, when they felt they had reached a truer insight, and have advanced step by step with the aid of complete inner honesty. The pattern that underlies their work, the formative energy that permeates everything, have remained the some; each of their carvings and models are Moore and Giacometti they have been fortified against influences of all kinds by their original attachment to nature and time.

Alberto Giacometti and Henry Moore are involved with the process of creation and they find themselves only where this process, and not ultimate perfection, reigns. In this paper I try to compare and contrast the work and lives of Alberto Giacometti and Henry Moore.

Henry Moore has never failed to go his own way; it has been a way with detours. A sculptor who started in 1922 may have had more difficulties than an older man who started, say, in 1912. A great deal had already happened, the great breakthrough had already been achieved, and anyone who followed had to take his place in the ranks or wait till he was given the password. But the talented receive the password from the world with its facts and questions.

Since form is the organization of human experience, the artist is at all times faced with a difficult start; but it is doubly difficult when the pillars of spiritual and social life have crumbled, when the old categories of thinking and perceiving have proved invalid and the new are still in flux. It would seem that Moore put his trust in his own inner daemon; the attachment to his own self as the subject of his whole psyche, including its unconscious elements, was so decisive that initially the environment disturbed him little. The self stood over him like something suprapersonal and led him into the realm of Motherhood. Since a psychic constitution like Moore's is unalterable, his early works, all differences notwithstanding, show the same attitude as the late ones; what changes is the scope of experience and the degree of mastery over the vocabulary of forms. Moore has worked with unparalleled intensity for its extension and intensification. The solid, central, three-dimensional and vital sculptures of the 1920s were followed by the surreal compositions of the 1930s, those enclosed within themselves like signs and the open ones, of which some advance outwardly to the boundaries of the technological, while others go to the limits of the demonic and on into the darkness of the earth.

The 1940s, the war and post-war years, revealed to Moore precisely the sunny side of life in the shape of community and tradition, both religious and humanist so that the archaic and earthy retired into the background. (4) But this was only a transitory stage, and the 1950s led Moore into situations where tension and relaxation reached their maximum. The "Greek" element is an incidental component; the absolute and the chthonic, on the other hand, show through everywhere and produce such contrasting works as the 'Standing Figures' and the mythological 'Cross' in Scotland, or the 'King and Queen' and the 'Warrior'. There is no fissure anywhere; everything comes from the some centre; only the manifestations vary. Moore has been misunderstood in two directions and blamed on the one hand for his "naturalism" or "classicism", and on the other for his abstraction. But for Moore both were not a goal, but a path, and the leap to the one was no less bold than to the other. After so many experiments in the 1930s, to make a 'Madonna' or a 'Family Group' for a school playground demanded the same effort as to fashion a 'Reclining Figure' as the open repository of earthiness; a 'Reclining Figure' in the style of the Parthenon was just as hazardous an enterprise as the 'Outer and Inner Forms'. (7) ...

Order now

Related essays