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Henry Moore – The Genius of Plaster Art

In sculpture, gypsum is often considered as a means to create the primary model, which is then used to make more durable work of stone or metal. Nevertheless, it is this pliable and plastic material that allows the master to really create.

One of the recognized masters of gypsum art, Henry Moore, created his sculptures and stucco moldings from gypsum as completed works. He believed that only work created directly by the author’s hands conserves his energy. That is why gypsum stucco molding and sculpture were the priority areas of his work.

The mysterious and wise Henry Moore

Henry Moore (July 30, 1898 – August 31, 1986) is an English artist and sculptor, whose work experts attribute to a separate direction of modernism. Moore was born in Castleford to a miner family. Many art historians compare the wave-like form of his plaster figures with the hilly landscape of his birthplace.

Mura’s talent was recognized and highly appreciated during his lifetime, and large orders made him an exceptionally rich person. Despite this, he lived modestly. Most of the money he earned was directed to the Henry Moore Charity Fund, which to this day continues to support the fields of education and art.

Why gypsum?

The peculiarity of gypsum stucco molding and Moore’s sculpture is fragility and emotionality. Even his largest works of plaster do not look pompous and monumental, like their stone and metal counterparts. The gypsum surface has natural bumps resembling scars. This allows emphasizing the elegance and vulnerability of the sculptures. This is especially pronounced in the sculptures of mother and child, fallen warriors, oblique figures. Moore himself was well aware of these features, in connection with which he consciously created most of his works exclusively in a plaster version.

The mysterious and wise Henry Moore

The plots of Moore’s plaster works are futuristic and original. In many of his sculptures, he questions the connection between man and the natural world, pointing to the extraterrestrial origin of people. Henry Moore was one of the first to use the technique of applying a pencil drawing directly to a gypsum surface to achieve the effect of delimiting planes.

Instead of working with the cool white color often associated with gypsum, Moore usually dyed his work with a walnut dye. This allowed the sculptures to give organic warmth. As a result, the stucco and sculptural compositions do not seem elaborate and detached, but rather resemble the natural objects created by nature itself.

Void in Moore’s Plaster Sculpture

Another important feature of Henry Moore’s plaster art is the void in sculpture. The masters were so inspired by the theme of “air” in sculptural compositions that he began to use this technique even in his most massive works.

One of the most striking examples is the sculpture “The Big Torso: Arch”. In shape, this sculpture resembles a large arch-shaped bone, standing on two strong supports. The viewer can not only contemplate the void in the very center of the composition, but also pass through the hole, getting involved in the mysterious plan of the author. Depending on the angle from which a person looks at the arch, it transforms from a sophisticated tall figure (side view) to a wide massive and even rough structure. This, according to the master, makes the viewer the center of the sculptural work.

Interestingly, Henry Moore personally determined the location of his street creations. To do this, he took large-scale photographs of his works and placed them in various panoramic views to give a sense of scale. Initially, the “Big Torso: Arch” was made of plaster, like most of the master’s works, but later the plaster version was replaced by a large-scale sculpture of travertine marble.

Primitive sculptures of Moore

Another distinguishing feature of the master is the desire for primitive forms. Moore was never shy about the simplest forms, fuzzy lines, surface defects. He believed that the simplicity of primitive art stems from a strong and immediate feeling. This, according to the master, gives the work a strong emotional message and causes a response from each viewer. As an example, he gave cave paintings and sculptures of ancient civilizations. Then people did not possess sophisticated techniques for working with material, but sought to express themselves in simple ways that were accessible.

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