Henry Moore: Knife Edge

A pioneering and prolific artist, Henry Moore was a sculptor who made work in wood, stone, and bronze that can be found all over the world.

As a young student in England, Moore was influenced by the work of Picasso, Constantin Brancusi, and the surrealists, among others. He was also drawn to tribal, pre-Columbian, and ancient art. Over his long career, Moore explored forms that could be fairly representational or very abstract.

Henry Spencer Moore, Large Standing Figure: Knife Edge, 1961, cast 1976, bronze, H. (including base) 137 1/2 in., Bequest of Gordon Hanes

Says former NCMA curator Huston Paschal, the NCMA’s Large Standing Figure: Knife Edge is based on a bone: “Moore liked the shape of bones. He studied and drew them in museums, in the landscape, and in his kitchen.” This practice, notes Paschal, peaked in the early 1960s, “at about the time Moore had the idea to model a work on the knife-edge thinness of a bird’s breastbone.”

Curator of American and Modern Art John Coffey adds that Moore would start experimenting by “smearing and pinching clay” onto a bone to begin developing a form.

Watch the video to hear more of Coffey’s thoughts on Moore’s later work and the sculpture that graces the entry to the NCMA’s West Building.

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