HK Connaught Garden
Double Oval is a feat of formal balance and harmony. Although essentially abstract, the shapes entertain visual association and implied meaning. It has a compelling tactility; the viewer feels the urge to reach out and touch the seemingly worn-smooth inside edges of the vast holes. In other parts it is scratched like an ancient fossil, while its angular parts recall the lightweight strength of a bone. The sweeping ovals suggest the romantic promise of eternity symbolized by the wedding ring. This accentuates the perceived duality of bulk and grace, as does the idea of protection indicated by the stouter, darker back form that appears to guard the other, akin to Moore’s internal/external imagery. It has a natural, timeless feel that is the basis of so much of his work.
It has been suggested that Double Oval resembles the handles of a pair of scissors. The analogy has previously been cast aside, but a drawing of 1964 goes some way to proving it to be correct. Heads (HMF 3100) depicts two heads made out of the forms of two pairs of scissor handles, the two finger holes of each becoming the eyes. Each head is a single entity, but comprising two distinct parts as in Moore’s two-piece reclining figures. Each hole could therefore also be a single head with only one visible eye. This seemingly frivolous animation of a household object may have its roots in the contemporary Pop Art, but it seems more likely that it is a semi-automatic drawing tapping unconscious imagery and concepts. The ideas it explores may be involved in the evolution also of the two Moon Heads of 1964 (LH 521) that investigate interdependence of form and space. By using the pierced forms in Double Oval that are more true to the original drawing, Moore has furthered this investigation. However he also spoke of the idea of the shadow, of one form echoing the other, that thereby questions its solid reality. Beyond the emotional communication of both the abstract form and the suggestion of two heads, this piece could be seen as a formal experiment with the sculptural object as a three-dimensional presence negotiating space on different levels. This impression is only enhanced by our physical engagement with it due to its immense size.
Henry Spencer Moore Om Ch Fba Rbs (30 July 1898 – 31 August 1986) was an English sculptor and artist. He was best known for his semi-abstract monumental bronze sculptures which are located around the world as public works of art.
His forms are usually abstractions of the human figure, typically depicting mother-and-child or reclining figures. Moore's works are usually suggestive of the female body, apart from a phase in the 1950s when he sculpted family groups. His forms are generally pierced or contain hollow spaces. Many interpreters liken the undulating form of his reclining figures to the landscape and hills of his birthplace, Yorkshire.
Moore was born in Castleford, the son of a coal miner. He became well-known through his carved marble and larger-scale abstract cast bronze sculptures, and was instrumental in introducing a particular form of modernism to the United Kingdom. His ability in later life to fulfill large-scale commissions made him exceptionally wealthy. Yet he lived frugally and most of the money he earned went towards endowing the Henry Moore Foundation, which continues to support education and promotion of the arts.
After the Second World War, Moore's bronzes took on their larger scale, which was particularly suited for public art commissions. As a matter of practicality, he largely abandoned direct carving, and took on several assistants to help produce the larger forms based on maquettes. By the end of the 1940s, he produced sculptures increasingly by modelling, working out the shape in clay or plaster before casting the final work in bronze using the lost wax technique. These maquettes often began as small forms shaped by Moore's hands—a process which gives his work an organic feeling. They are from the body. At his home in Much Hadham, Moore built up a collection of natural objects; skulls, driftwood, pebbles, rocks and shells, which he would use to provide inspiration for organic forms. For his largest works, he usually produced a half-scale, working model before scaling up for the final moulding and casting at a bronze foundry. Moore often refined the final full plaster shape and added surface marks before casting. Moore produced at least three significant examples of architectural sculpture during his career. In 1928, despite his own self-described "extreme reservations", he accepted his first public commission for West Wind for the London Underground Building at 55 Broadway in London, joining the company of Jacob Epstein and Eric Gill. In 1953, he completed a four-part concrete screen for the Time-Life Building in New Bond Street, London, and in 1955 Moore turned to his first and only work in carved brick, "Wall Relief" at the Bouwcentrum in Rotterdam. The brick relief was sculpted with 16,000 bricks by two Dutch bricklayers under Moore's supervision.
Perhaps equalled only by Alexander Calder, Henry Moore was most sought after in the second half of the twentieth century as a creator of monumental outdoor works. From its initial meeting in March 1968, the selection committee for Princeton University’s Putnam Collection gave priority to the search for a major bronze by the British artist. Fortuitously, Moore was coming to the United States that same year to receive an honorary degree from Columbia University, and he was invited to visit Princeton. In 1969, Oval with Points, then in maquette form, was selected unanimously by the committee from among three new sculptures. The sculpture resembles one of Moore’s favorite found objects—an elephant skull acquired in East Africa by the distinguished biologist Sir Julian Huxley and his wife, Juliette, which they had placed in their garden and ultimately gifted to Moore. Within a few short months of the installation—to the delight of the sculptor—the interior curves of the oval were visibly burnished from contact with bodies sitting on or sliding through it. The maquette that impressed Princeton’s selection committee is now in the collection of the Princeton University Art Museum.