Wall Relief 1 (1955) Henry Moore

Jannes Linders
About the artwork

The human body is the most important theme in Henry Moore's work, in particular the themes 'the reclining figure' and 'mother and child'. Moore worked geometrically-abstract for a short period, but returned to the organic form and the human figure. Since 1946 he mainly worked in bronze. Wall Relief 1 that Moore designed for the Bouwcentrum in Rotterdam is his first and only brick work. The Dutch Brick Industry Association wanted to offer the Bouwcentrum a decorative brick wall. Moore was asked to make a design after an exhibition of his work at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in 1953. The artist had previously designed a sculpture that was fully integrated into a building. In the summer of 1954, he designed seven models in plaster, from which a selection was made by a jury. The implementation started in July 1955. Moore only interfered with the wall relief remotely. Two bricklayers (Gerrit Philips and Kees Molendijk) built 16.000 Dutch bricks, the so-called 'hand-shaped colored clinkers', in an organic and geometric relief on the wall. Moore was very impressed by the craftsmanship of the masons and showed his respect by donating the design for the relief to the Bouwcentrum. The composition consists of horizontal and vertical lines and ridges, with a strip of decorative figures above and below. There are five organic forms in the middle. Moore saw the possibilities of the material in the British Museum at Assyrian brick sculptures. He designed the work with the intention of being a point of rest for the eye. There was harmony between the work and the building against which the work was located, but due to adjustments and a relocation the building was no longer in balance with the work. In November 2012 the wall was moved to a storage facility, so that the building of the former Bouwcentrum could be demolished. Fortunately could Wall Relief 1 preserved in its entirety. The Architects Cie, who won the competition for new construction at this location, was told in the program of requirements that the wall relief should be retained at its original location. For more information: Sculpture International Rotterdam.

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About the artist

Henry Moore (Castleford, 1898 - Much Hadham, 1986) knew at a young age that he wanted to become a sculptor. Yet he started as a teacher in 1916. During the First World War he served in the army, after which he received a scholarship for the Leeds School of Art. In 1921 he went to study sculpture at the Royal College of Art in London. He was one of the first to make abstract images that seemed to have been created as a result of the effects of natural forces, such as wear and tear due to erosion. His figurative images have the same natural appearance. Moore thought the natural form was very important; he looked at them from what he found in the landscape. In his work, Moore focused on contradictions such as empty space and solid mass. Henry Moore is an important sculptor, in particular because he has served as an example for many sculptors in the course of history.

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