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Two Piece Reclining Figure No 1 Sculpture

A Grade II Listed Building in City of Westminster, London

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.4902 / 51°29'24"N

Longitude: -0.1274 / 0°7'38"W

OS Eastings: 530106

OS Northings: 178469

OS Grid: TQ301784

Mapcode National: GBR HM.KZ

Mapcode Global: VHGQZ.RS0Z

Entry Name: Two Piece Reclining Figure No 1 Sculpture

Listing Date: 25 January 2019

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1451036

Location: Westminster, Greater London Authority, SW1P

County: London

District: City of Westminster

Electoral Ward/Division: Vincent Square

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: City of Westminster

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Summary


Two Piece Reclining Figure No 1 sculpture, 1959, by Henry Moore.

Description

Two Piece Reclining Figure No 1 sculpture, 1959, by Henry Moore.

MATERIALS: the sculpture is cast in bronze and sits upon a circular concrete pedestal.

DESCRIPTION: an abstracted female figure in two parts; the forms have a rough, textural finish. The sculpture is approximately 1m high and 1.2m wide, and stands upon a 1m-high pedestal. There is a plaque facing north-east inscribed ‘TWO PIECE RECLINING FIGURE NO1 1959 / HENRY MOORE 1898-1986’.

History

The period after 1945 saw a shift from commemorative sculpture and architectural enrichment to the idea of public sculpture as a primarily aesthetic contribution to the public realm. Sculpture was commissioned for new housing, schools, universities and civic set pieces, with the counties of Hertfordshire, London and Leicestershire leading the way in public patronage. Thus public sculpture could be an emblem of civic renewal and social progress. By the late C20 however, patronage was more diverse and included corporate commissions and Arts Council-funded community art. The ideology of enhancing the public realm through art continued, but with divergent means and motivation.

Visual languages ranged from the abstraction of Victor Pasmore and Phillip King to the figurative approach of Elisabeth Frink and Peter Laszlo Peri, via those such as Lynn Chadwick and Barbara Hepworth who bridged the abstract/representational divide. The post-war decades are characterised by the exploitation of new – often industrial – materials and techniques including new welding and casting techniques, plastics and concrete, while kinetic sculpture and ‘ready mades’ (using found objects) demonstrate an interest in composite forms.

Henry Moore (1898–1986) is widely recognised as one of the most important English sculptors of the C20. He was born in Yorkshire and attended Castleford Grammar School, where he reluctantly taught from 1916, before serving in the army between 1917 and 1919. His artistic education began at Leeds School of Art, before he achieved his ambition of a place at the Royal College of Art (RCA), London, in 1921. He went via Paris to Italy on a travelling scholarship in the mid-1920s, and between 1925 and 1932 taught at the RCA, and then was head of Sculpture at the Chelsea School of Art from 1932 to 1939. His first solo show was in 1928, and his first public commission the same year: a relief for Holden’s Underground Building, St James’s. He was prolific in the 1930s, exhibiting at home and abroad, and during the Second World War won great acclaim for his drawings of people sheltering in the London underground. His first major foreign retrospective was held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1946. Following bomb damage in the war, Moore and his wife moved from Hampstead to Perry Green in Hertfordshire, where he remained for the rest of his life. Philanthropic in his outlook, Moore established a charitable foundation in 1977 to encourage public appreciation of the visual arts; he bequeathed his estate at Perry Green to the foundation prior to his death, and donated hundreds of works to galleries and institutions internationally.

There are a large number of Moore works of art on public display nationally, thanks to the benefaction of the foundation. There are six free-standing Moore sculptures listed, including one at Grade II*: the memorial to Christopher Martin at Dartington College. A number of other his works are listed as part of the buildings that they occupy or adorn.

Two Piece Reclining Figure No 1 was acquired by the Chelsea School of Art – now the Chelsea College of Art and Design – in 1959, and was installed by Moore at the former home of the college at Manresa Road. The college’s Special Collections archive contains photographs of the installation, documentation leading to the purchase of the sculpture, and unrealised plans for a motorised revolving plinth. The circular plinth upon which the piece stands was intended to encourage the viewer to move around the two forms, presenting an interplay of solid and void as perspective changes. The separation into two parts further obscures the female figure, and explores Moore’s interest in the coalescence of anatomical and geological masses; the forms have a craggy, monolithic quality, emphasised by the rough surface treatment.

The sculpture has been moved several times: from Manresa Road it went, in 1968, to the Tate, then to the Royal Academy in 1988, and to the Jeu de Paume, Paris in 1996. During the College’s relocation to Millbank, the sculpture resided at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, before returning to London in 2010. The return of the sculpture coincided with a retrospective on Moore by the Tate gallery, adjacent to the college. The college mounted their own exhibition, celebrating the return of the piece and its peripatetic history; it included a filmed recital by Dudley Sutton entitled ‘Don’t do any more Henry Moore (You are becoming a monumental bore)’, perhaps a riposte to the Tate, but rather a whimsical lament told from the perspective of the removal men tasked with hauling the weighty sculpture between its various homes.

Reasons for Listing

Two Piece Reclining Figure No 1, 1959, by Henry Moore, is listed at Grade II, for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* the first in a series of four abstracted two-piece female figures exploring the coalescence of anatomy and landscape, which is of high artistic and aesthetic quality.

Historic interest:

* by one of the most highly-regarded and influential sculptors of the C20, and representative of the increasingly abstract form his work assumed in his later career;
* for its association with the Chelsea School of Art, a significant institution in artistic education, where Moore was Head of Sculpture in the 1930s.

Group value:

* for its contribution to a landscape with an important and evolving artistic legacy, architecturally and historically rich with numerous listed structures.

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