Lifelong Learning Programme

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
This material reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein

Artists - ArtWorks

Name of the Artist / Artwork:

Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth

Country: United Kingdom
Century: 1900 - The 20th Century
Artist / Artwork Description:

Henry Moore (1898-1986) and Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975 ) were two English sculptors who gained international recognition for their work.

Synthetic Chronology:

Henry Moore was born in 1898. He attended Leeds School of Art where he met and became friends with Barbara Hepworth. Having subsequently attended the Royal College of Art in London, he went on to teach at Chelsea School of Art in the 1930s.
In 1940 he was appointed an official war artist.
In the 1950s he received many awards and commissions and had exhibitions of his work throughout the world.
Moore died in 1986.
Barbara Hepwoth was born on 1903 and died in 1975.
In the early 1930s she met, and later married, Ben Nicholson the painter, and together they began a move towards abstraction in their sculpture and painting.
She later studied for a period in Italy and was made a Dame in 1965.

The Context:

The period during and immediately after the 1st World War saw tremendous political, social and artistic upheaval in Europe. The old regimes and social codes were being threatened and destroyed. Out from the pieces, artists in Russia, Germany, France and Italy were assembling the new movements of Surrealism and Abstraction.
This was just the point when Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth became students and began to respond to these changes.


During 1933 Moore, and Hepworth, in close harmony with painters like Nicholson and Nash, formed a group called ‘Unit One’ which became the nucleus of the abstract movement in England.
They had been encouraged by their separate visits to Europe in the 1920s where they had been to the studios of, and met, Pablo Picasso and avant-garde sculptors Constantin Brancusi and Jean Arp. Their cubist and abstract forms encouraged Moore and Hepworth to look at the work of Pre-columbian, Egyptian and African sculpture

National Comparative:

As a result of their experiences in France and Italy, Moore and Hepworth became the leading figures in England with the new movement associated with direct carving and abstract forms. This 3-dimensional development was echoed by the move of painters like Nash and Nicholson toward abstraction in painting. The Vorticist movement looked to develop abstract and constructivist theory and practice in work that took inspiration from the avant garde in Russia, France and Germany.

Artistic Analysis:

Both artists worked in a variety of materials in their sculpture. However, Moore, later working on some very large pieces, mainly used stone and bronze. Hepworth is better known for her use of wood and stone and often on a slightly smaller scale.
Both described an important aspect of their early career as being the excitement of discovering the nature of direct carving and the study of natural forms.
Later their paths separated as Henry Moore developed sculptures which were largely representational in origin. “The human figure,” he later wrote, “is what interests me most deeply”
Barbara Hepworth’s work, on the other hand, was usually conceived as abstract forms inspired by the shapes and rhythms derived from the study of natural objects, such as pebbles, rocks, bones, trees, and plants .

Transnational Comparative Analysis:

The move toward abstraction was a trans-European movement with individuals and groups springing up and cross fertilising throughout the first 2 decades of the twentieth century. The work, whether 2 or 3-dimensional, of key figures like Mondrian, Malevitch, Lissitsky, Brancusi, Arp, Gabo and movements like Consrtuctivism, Cubism and Futurism, influenced Moore and Hepworth during these formative years.

Development of the artist's work through the years:

From the Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi and the Cubist sculptors, Moore became interested in abstracted representational form especially as seen in ‘primitive’ examples like ancient Mexican stone carving.
Hepworth was more attracted to the simplicity of pure abstract and geometric shape in natural forms.
The 2nd World War had an important impact on both artists. Moore as official war artist concentrated on drawing and recorded figures sheltering from bombing raids. His later figurative work, family groups and reclining women derive from this work.
Hepworth, meanwhile, had moved to St Ives in Cornwall, and during the war was restricted to producing small sculptures and drawings inspired by found objects and landscape.
Moore was given his first major retrospective abroad by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1946 and in 1948 he won the International Prize for Sculpture at the Venice Biennal. Two years later Barbara Hepworth’s work was represented there and her growing international reputation was confirmed in 1959 when she won the Grand Prix at the Sao Paolo Bienal.


Moore and Hepworth combined and developed their 3D organic and geometric forms with their love of natural materials.
Their abstract or abstracted work gained national and international status by the mid twentieth century and inspired a generation of British sculptors.


A Monumental Vision: The Sculpture of Henry Moore, John Hedgecoe (Collins and Brown)
Henry Moore, Liver, C. O’Reilly, S. (Scholastic Library)
Barbara Hepworth. Penelope Curtis (Tate Publishing)
Barbara Hepworth: A Pictorial Autobiography. (Tate Publishing)

Related Material:

Image available

File name: 100_Henry_Moore-Two_Piece_Reclining_Figure_5_-_Kenwood.jpg

Description of the material:

Two Piece Reclining Figure No 5

Contextualisation Of the source:

Henry Moore (1963-64) bronze, sited in the grounds of Kenwood House, London

Comments about this Artist/ArtWork

Date: 2009.09.18

Posted by Jolanta Rulewska, POLAND

Message: Barbara Hepworth –
the works by Barbara Hepworth demonstrate the artist’s inclinations towards abstraction which appeared to be the main domain of her artistic records. Similarly to Moore’s case she was interested in the matter of the integral space concerning the sculpture (by means of the hollows made in a sculpture) and emphasizing in sculpture the characteristic features of material which it was made of. The hollows mentioned became one of the most recognizable elements of her masterpieces. That characteristic feature can be observed on the site:

Date: 2009.09.07

Posted by Agata Tarajko

Message: I found this interesting video on Henry Moore. It is based on an exbition of the work of Moore made in 1982. In the video there is a blending of real sculptures with animations of plastiline to show the art work creation process.

Date: 2009.04.25

Posted by aristide brizzizu

Message: i love moore soo much is the big brother of giacometti... hey bro why do nt u put photos of Moore?

Michelangelo - Copyright 2008 - This project has been funded with support from the European Commission

Valid XHTML 1.1Valid CSS!Materiale fotografico: © Pavel Losevsky |