John Read shares his memories of Henry Moore, who he filmed six times over 28 years. (1986)
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In the half century or more since his first exhibition,
the work of Henry Moore has been seen in almost every country in the world.
He's made a staggering total of something like 900 sculptures,
many of them immense, as well as thousands of drawings
and nearly a thousand graphics.
In one year, when he was in his 80s, he had more than 40 exhibitions.
In the later part of his life,
the demand for his work never stopped.
He received almost every award and honour that one can possibly imagine.
I believe that Henry Moore is one of the greatest sculptors
since the Renaissance.
He's been to the art of sculpture what Picasso was to painting.
Picasso opened up so many new ways of painting, he was a revolutionary
in the sense of breaking down all the old ways and suggesting new ways.
Moore differed from Picasso in this respect.
Moore, as modern as he may have seemed at the beginning,
never really lost his contact with tradition.
He took the whole idea of 19thcentury sculpture,
threw it away, but went back to what he called
the world tradition of sculpture.
By that he meant looking at every culture in the world,
going back as far as 40,000 years
to the very sources of sculptural expression.
But however modern, revolutionary or surreal
the sculpture may have seemed,
his fundamental beliefs lay entirely within a humanistic tradition.
HENRY MOORE: All our judgements of architecture,
of form and everything else, are based on the fact
that we are human beings of the shape we are.
And that we have a height of average between five foot six and six feet,
that we walk on two legs,
that we have bones inside us
and that we can move in certain ways and not in other ways,
that we understand from ourselves,
and from our mothers to begin with, softness and hardness.
If you don't, well, learn from your own body,
you'll learn from nothing.
And that for me, that the human body is the basis
of all sense of form that all of us have.
We learn how far a thing is away from us, as a child,
by trying to touch the toy in the pram.
We learn what is upright and so on because we are ourselves.
If we were like horses and could go to sleep on all fours,
all our architecture, all our art, would be different.
Of course it would.
Of course it would.
Well, Henry Moore had that way
of making very unusual and provocative ideas sound as though
they were common sense and very down to earth.
I must have known him as a child,
but I don't have any memories of that.
The first place I really remember meeting him was here,
in fact, in this very room. Not a room so much as a studio.
It was, in fact, Henry Moore's first studio
when he moved out of London into the country.
And because the film I made about him in 1950 was the first film
I had ever made, it was also my first film studio.
It was, in fact, the village shop once.
And up the back there was what was the butcher's shop.
And Moore, I remember, was delighted, when they were digging round there,
to find the ground was fill of huge shin bones and shoulder blades,
and I think a lot of these probably gave him
some inspiration for some of his sculpture.
He certainly liked wearing a butcher's apron when he was working.
I made six films about him over, I think, about 28 years.
The last one for his 80th birthday.
By then, I was beginning to feel as though I was a member of his staff.
Put that...in-between you, put that just...somewhere on the side there.
That's it, like that. No, it's about.. No. The other.
Turn it right round the other side.
It's got a better...
No, right round.
No, no. Look.
No, no, no, no. All right, turn it over again. There.
Now bring it over here, bring it... That's it, there.
That'll be better, much better, when you're out of the way.
You're standing in the light. There you are.
'When I went to see him, as his 80th birthday approached,
'I found him as eager to talk about his beliefs as ever.
'He is, amongst other things, a meticulous photographer
'of his own work and attends to every detail
'with almost boyish enthusiasm.'
Yes... No, I don't want that white edge at the back.
That's it, there.
That doesn't matter about having a sharp edge. There we are. Now...
See, that will make a much better... There.
Moore's expert knowledge of photography was a great help to me
when I made my first film there in 1950.
With the strange and impressive shapes that fill his studio,
he picks up and carries on a tradition
that has been extinct in England for 400 years,
a tradition of expressiveness and truth to material.
The studio is a workshop in which he turns his ideas into tangible forms.
At first sight, this world is unfamiliar and puzzling to us.
But the quality and quantity of Moore's work has a unity
that could only come from great originality and strength.
Sculpture of this kind is a challenge to our accepted ideas
and we must understand the sculptor's approach to his work
before we can appreciate the work itself.
The sculptor is distinguished from other artists by his materials
and by the way he uses them.
Here are Henry Moore's hands and his tools.
I learned from Moore a great deal
about how to place and light sculpture for the camera,
how to photograph it from many angles,
how to move the camera right inside
as though entering a tunnel and walking through it.
I also learned a great deal about art.
I think I picked up from him
the basic sort of sign posts in my own artistic belief.
It was impossible to work
so closely with Moore without really absorbing his ideas.
Henry Moore was born at Castleford in Yorkshire.
It's a typical 19th-century mining town.
DH Lawrence was born in a very similar place in Nottinghamshire.
There must be 100 others like it all over the country.
Moore has been given the freedom of Castleford.
They are as proud of him there as they would be
if he'd played cricket for Yorkshire.
He was born in 1898 in an ordinary terraced brick house.
His father was a miner, and a friend of Herbert Smith,
who helped to found the Yorkshire Miners' Union.
When times were bad, his mother went out to work.
There were eight children in the family all together.
Two died, three became teachers, one was lost to sight in Canada.
Henry, who went to the local school, was the one who was good at art.
They still keep there a caricature of his headmaster,
with his own name, much bigger, alongside.
He carved it on the back of the school roll of honour,
which he designed in 1916.
He also wrote plays, acted in them, and designed the programme covers.
He was good at pottery,
and in all these activities, owed a great deal
to the encouragement of his art teacher.
As a boy, at school, I liked the art lessons, I liked drawing.
I used to get my elder brother to draw horses for me, and so on,
from as early as I can remember,
but the little incident that clinches the thing in my mind was...
..our parents used to send me and my younger sister
to Sunday school on Sunday afternoons to get rid of us, I think, mainly.
And the Sunday school we went to was a Congregational chapel,
although we were Church of England.
And the superintendent every Sunday used to give a talk about...
..some little moral, it would always have a point to the talk.
And one Sunday he told us about
Michelangelo carving the head of an old faun in the streets of...
In his studio, in the streets of Florence, and...
But a passer-by stood to watch Michelangelo carving
this head of an old faun and...
..after watching two or three minutes, said to Michelangelo,
"But an old faun wouldn't have all its teeth in."
Michelangelo immediately, said the superintendent,
took his chisel, knocked out two of the teeth
and there, he said, was a great man,
listening to the advice of other people,
even though he didn't know them.
Now, this story didn't stick in my mind, but it's moral -
but merely that there was someone, Michelangelo, a great sculptor.
And from then onwards, instead of saying, like most boys might,
that one wants to be an engine driver and so on,
this had just pinpointed something in my mind and I knew from then onwards.
In the early 1950s, Henry Moore could just walk out of the house
and into this shed, and that was all there was to it,
and this was the only studio.
There was a small space outside, a kind of patio,
which faced the garage door.
All the work was done within that small area,
right up till the time when he became
a really famous and international figure.
But, of course, as his fame increased, his income increased,
and with it, the size of his sculpture
and the extent of the whole operation.
It became quite extraordinary,
the way Perry Green became almost a little country of its own,
as Henry Moore occupied one building after another.
It spread out over the fields, into the sheds and barns
and it became a kind of sculpture park.
'By 1958, his studio had expanded greatly.
'Now that he was earning more, he could do more.
'His old studio was used more and more for small pieces,
'for polishing and finishing off castings and for maquettes,
'and for the sort of jobs that assistants could do for him.'
The garden around the house had grown very considerably
and sculptures were placed in it to the best advantage.
Beyond the garden, Moore had taken over two large fields
and a small wood.
In the first field he built a new studio, well away from the house,
where he could work both night and day.
It was built to his own design with doors and roof high enough
for his largest works
and a terrace onto which he could move his sculptures.
This was important because he felt very strongly
that sculpture meant to be looked at out of doors,
cannot be made entirely indoors.
Running a sculpture workshop on the scale that Henry Moore did
made him something like the managing director
of quite a large enterprise.
All the same, he had a very strict routine to deal with all this.
One wondered sometimes where and when
he managed to do his actual creative work.
But he'd have breakfast at eight,
he would have a meeting with his staff at nine o'clock
to brief them for the day's jobs.
He would read The Times, perhaps for half an hour
and then he would sit down with his secretary
and go through the mail, things like this,
before going down to the studios to see what was happening.
All this took place in a very simple, straightforward domestic routine.
Really very homely. And if you came down to see him you would have lunch.
Lunch would be cold lamb, baked potato, something like that.
Everybody had a bottle of Guinness,
each separate bottle of Guinness for each plate.
Each one with its own little opener, I always remember that.
You do sort of get sidelights on people.
I remember having a dinner with the abstract sculptor Naum Gabo
and he chose chicken, spring chicken,
and watching him trying to carve that spring chicken...
It was a total disaster -
within two minutes there was just wreckage on the plate.
Now, to see Moore carving into a sirloin of beef
was one of the small joys of life, cos in no time at all
there was the most beautiful two-piece reclining figure there.
RADIO PLAYS IN WORKSHOP
Of course, things could go wrong.
There was a great occasion once, I think, when a sculpture fell off
the back of a lorry on the motorway, which puzzled the police somewhat.
Er... We were lucky once, in fact, if lucky is the word,
because we had cameras there when something quite serious went wrong.
'The sculpture was tied by nylon straps
'to the jib of a massive crane.'
'The hangar roof, only inches above, created problems.'
'A false move, a faulty calculation, and the sculpture could slip,
'the crane overturn, the hangar be demolished.
'Noack drew the lines along which he would cut.
'He hoped to take out a whole half-section in a single piece.'
RADIO PLAYS IN BACKGROUND
RADIO: '..Whatever you do this Whitsun,
'you must take your friends to Spedeworth Stock Car Racing...'
As Noack cut the last few inches, the weight of the sculpture
was transferred from its base to the straps.
Anything could happen now.
RADIO: '..All the places for Spedeworth Stock Car Racing,
MAN 1: Schoen drin. Aber heraus...Sie nicht ziehen.
MAN 2: Ja, ja.
MAN 1: Schoen runter... Das kann ruhig ein bisschen hier raushangen.
'Moore went to lunch.'
Things began to go wrong.
The upper section had dropped and its edge fouled the piece below.
Ugly cracks appeared.
The crane had no room to manoeuvre and was very nearly off-balance.
The section had to be cut free.
MUSIC PLAYS ON RADIO
'Then it happened.'
MAN YELLS AND WHISTLES
The top section had cracked at its narrowest part,
the plaster was torn, the armature had snapped.
The falling piece swung into the other half of the sculpture
and made an ugly dent.
By the time they'd got the first piece out,
Moore came back from lunch...
'Surprisingly, he was calm, philosophical
'and above all, practical.'
MAN: No, a little bit more.
Maybe you can drive it some?
MOORE: 'It can be mended.
'I mean, there's... This is what life is.
'Sometimes you'll purposely destroy a thing
'to make something else out of it.'
'Art is not a process of just gradual perfection.
'You'll have accidents, you'll have troubles, you'll have...'
'You'll have difficulties.
'You'll destroy things, you'll discard something,
'you'll make a new thing, and all this is the way you live.
'So, you take the rough with the smooth.'
'I don't think it's very surprising
'that working with Henry Moore on doing films
'was an education in itself.'
Education, I think, was very close to his heart.
Not only had he benefited so much from hard work
and education himself - scholarship boy and so on -
he had the greatest respect for his teachers,
or some of them at least,
a great respect for what he got out of museums.
He had great respect, I think, for teaching himself, as a duty.
He liked taking people round.
He liked making films, he liked explaining,
and he was jolly good at it.
He knew exactly how to use the television and film medium.
Primitive art makes a straightforward statement.
Its primary concern is with the elemental.
And it's simplicity comes from a direct and strong feeling.
Which is very different from being simple for the sake of being simple,
which only leads to emptiness.
I think you will see what I mean
if you look at this Mexican pottery figure.
It was made by someone with a direct and immediate response to life
to whom art was a channel
for expressing strong hopes, beliefs and fears.
Well, this was, for me,
an important stage of my development as a sculptor...
..because although I was still mainly a stone sculptor,
in fact completely absorbed in stone carving...
..I was dissatisfied with the...
..usual idea of direct carving,
in which the forms are all so embedded in each other
that they don't have a free, independent existence.
And here I was trying to make... so that, say, this form,
which is like the shape of an egg, which is the body,
is completely, almost completely realised,
though not separated from the rest,
that is that I was making the forms...
..realised enough and yet, compact enough.
It was a very...important stage in my development as a sculptor.
Also, I was in this, getting the freedom to...
the forms of one thing with the forms of another, and yet,
perhaps making a unit, a kind of organic unit out of the whole.
And this I've done at later times.
I mean, here is the back view of a figure.
This is a kind of egg.
This is the sort of head and it has...
The whole has some sort of sense of a jug, but it is an organic form.
And I remember a little child, my niece, I think, who was very young,
when she first saw this, she said, "Oh, an elephant in an armchair."
HE CHUCKLES Which was a, er...
I was very pleased that she had felt some real object, some real...
JOHN READ: Sometimes Henry Moore's simple, common-sense explanations
seemed a bit too simple when one thought about the works that he made.
He was always ready to explain the sturdy dimensions
of his female figures by telling that old story of his
about how he used to rub his mother's back as a child
to help her with her rheumatism.
It's certainly true that his chief muse was an earth mother,
but I wonder sometimes
if there wasn't also a Venus or an Aphrodite in the background.
Some of his work seems to me to be sensual and tender,
extremely beautiful and sexually overt.
But the erotic content - if that's what we can call it -
was something he wasn't at all anxious to talk about.
The whole of life is...
..is made up of the...
I mean, if you want to look and if you want to interpret form
from this point of view,
then everything is...sex.
And the appreciation,
everybody's appreciation of form is built on this appreciation of sex.
I think that my...
Part of my early training as a young sculptor comes from being...
going to a mixed secondary school...
..where I could look at all the girls' legs,
all from the age of 12 or 13
and I could tell you in the school any...
which girl was which, if you'd only shown me her figure
from the knee downwards.
This was... Some of this... I mean, this is a...
But it isn't that thing that you mean.
I mean, the fullness of form.
The tautness of form, all these things are connected with life
and life is sex and so on.
So, it's not a...
It's not a conscious theme that you'll use your brain over.
I suppose to many people, especially in the '40s and '50s,
Henry Moore was best known as the man who made sculptures with a hole in.
In fact, of course,
the thing he was best known for was the reclining figure.
But these reclining figures,
many of which he did just before the war, beautiful though they were,
were only really admired and known about by a few people.
The work that made him famous in the popular mind were his drawings,
not his sculptures,
and these drawings came about when the war started
and his friend, Kenneth Clark,
who was then director of the National Gallery,
appointed him as a war artist.
MOORE: 'I used to go into London, two or three days a week,
'to do my shelter drawings.'
'It's curious how they all started.
'To begin with, I hadn't wanted to be a war artist,
'although I had been asked to be.'
'Because, to me, there seemed no...'
'..nothing unusual and nothing different
'in that early period of so-called Phoney War
'that made any new experience or gave me any new experiences.
'But this particular night,
'for some reason or other we came back by Tube,
'and it was then that I first saw the shelterers down the Tube.'
I began to be fascinated by all the people,
the kind of family life that they were leading
and these children, still fast asleep,
although the trains were rattling by and making a terrific din.
And there, stretched out in front of me,
were rows and rows of reclining figures...
Henry Moore reclining figures.
One imagined that perhaps there'd never been scenes like that,
except perhaps when the slaves were all being exported
from Africa to America.
In the hulls of slave ships,
people would be all crowded together like that, probably.
Sometimes, like in this,
I was trying to make two people there seem as though they were a sculpture
or in a tomb because down below it did feel sometimes like a tomb.
So occasionally, my sculptural interests come into it,
and I may...distort figures or change them for sculptural purposes.
But ordinarily, it was me trying to record the...
..experiences that one had, because it was intensely human.
There was even humour and so on, occasionally. It was a very...
And...here there are distortions in a way that,
like the thinness of the legs,
and the pointedness that they are to give, well,
something not consciously,
but sometimes pointed forms give a kind of sense of fear,
which other forms don't.
It was something of a paradox, wasn't it,
that what Henry Moore became famous for was not the open air
and the human figure in the landscape,
which was what he believed in,
but for these figures trapped and enclosed underground in the dark.
But, of course, his greatest single contribution, I think,
to the art of sculpture, was his idea of being able to combine
one's feeling about the landscape and one's feeling about the human figure.
Not as two separate things, but as one single image.
He saw the figure as a landscape, he saw the landscape as a figure.
A romantic idea - a romantic tradition in English literature
and in English painting - combined now in one single body of work.
One of the most characteristic qualities of Moore's work
is the way in which the contours and shapes of the human figure
are used to echo certain qualities of landscape.
For the first time in the whole history of art,
a sculptor has successfully extended his subject
to incorporate landscape,
which hitherto, had remained the painter's domain.
The flow of a skyline.
The slope of a hill.
The qualities of light and shade and of space out in the open
can affect a sculptor as much as a painter.
Poets, painters, writers and particularly English artists
have a long tradition of romantic absorption
in the emotional relationships
between man and the natural world in which he lives.
This very special sculptural quality of landscape,
rather strange and wild, immensely powerful and monumental,
was certainly something Moore knew all about
from his childhood excursions on the Yorkshire moors.
In the quiet, civilised fields of Hertfordshire,
his sculptures generated this same power.
A leg is clothed in a massive cliff face of drapery,
which flows over a body whose trunk is as strong as the trunk of a tree.
The shoulder supported on the arm is a hill
and the head almost a monument or a lookout post on a summit.
An enclosed field with summer trees and hedges
becomes a place of mystery.
Figures half in sun, half in shade
seem to exercise an ancient and uncanny spell.
Their bony, fossil-like forms are smooth, immensely strong
and seem as old as life itself.
There is a remote glen in Scotland which has become
a kind of sculpture valley.
By a deserted track, a solitary figure stands like a sentinel...
and the winds blow between its slender limbs.
Nearby on rising ground, another group sits in a position of command.
They embody the idea of royalty.
The heads of this king and queen are abstracted into shapes
which combine ancient symbols of majesty -
the bird head, the beak, the beard, the crown.
They have about them a fierceness too,
appropriate to the authority of tribal rulers.
Yet, in details, the sculptor's vision is intensely realistic,
suggesting the ordinary humanity behind the symbols of regal power.
The bodies are smoothed and rounded
as though moulded and weathered by the elements
into forms of sinuous strength.
The king and queen are guardians and rulers of the kingdom
that stretches beneath their gaze to the distant border.
Behind, an immense monument in bronze,
a tonne in weight, rests on the hilltop.
It can be seen like a beacon for miles away.
It stands exposed like a massive boulder,
left there by a glacier thousands of years ago.
Moore calls this a crucifixion thorn,
combining in it suggestions of a cross,
a severed torso and human suffering.
In 1963, then 65 years old,
Henry Moore received the highest award
that a civilian can receive in Britain.
He was given the Order of Merit.
Now, that might have been a point, you would think,
for him to put his feet up and to retire,
but in fact, he was at his creative peak
and artists, indeed, don't retire.
He'd already started dividing up the reclining figure into two pieces,
three pieces, four pieces.
There were entirely new ideas and themes emerging.
One of the best sculptures of that time, I think,
was his Atom Piece, which dealt with the whole business of atomic power
and atomic energy within one symbol that he invented.
He also was able to really do anything he wanted
in terms of size and scale, there were no technical limits any longer
to what he could do, there were no financial limits.
He also began to go to Italy
and there he bought a small two-bedroom villa,
a very modest place, in a little seaside town
that was called Forte dei Marmi.
Now, Moore was not really the man for family holidays,
there was always a reason behind these trips abroad.
And Forte dei Marmi was very near the marble quarries,
the very famous Carrara marble quarries,
where Michelangelo had worked.
To the chemist, marble is just calcium carbonate.
To the workers in the mountain villages, it's a job.
To the directors of the Henraux quarries,
where Michelangelo got his stone...
it's almost a religion, a mystique.
CLINKING OF METAL TOOLS
MAN CALLS OUT COMMAND
Moore, of course, doesn't work up in the mountains,
but he never fails to get there every year,
to Altissimo, the highest peak,
and to talk to people who go with him about Michelangelo.
MOORE: 'Perhaps I've got a tremendous admiration
'and obsession almost with Michelangelo.'
'And to be up in the very same mountain
'and to have pointed out to me
'the cave where Michelangelo quarried some of the stone
'and to realise what difficulties he must have had,
'what superhuman problems he had to cope with.
'That, plus the unbelievable romantic impression,
'the spectacular scenery...
'He is rather like a runner who could run a four-minute mile,
'but Michelangelo could run a three-minute mile.
'This sort of admiration that one has, as I look at the Altissimo,
'all this comes back,
'and so it's all mixed up with one's feeling for Michelangelo.
'He'd have a stronger feeling about the marble than we have
'because he had to quarry it himself,
'but I have the advantage, as we all have now,
'of choosing the stone after it's been quarried for us.
'We don't have to do all that terrific work.
'I mean, some of us may grumble, some of us may...
'think that we have difficult problems,
'but our problems are nothing compared with what...'
'..a person like Michelangelo and the problems he had.'
I think somehow in Italy,
Moore found that the association with Carrara
was in some way fulfilling his destiny.
This feeling that he had for Michelangelo
was really quite deep and profound within him.
And, of course, it was quite widely shared there in Italy.
He used to go to a little beach hut.
He didn't go to any of the grand hotels or to the beach clubs
or any of the fashionable places,
but each year to exactly the same place, a little row of huts.
And the old lady who was in charge of these huts
got to know him very well.
I borrowed his hut for a day on the beach and when we went down
and introduced myself, she said, "Ah, Henry Moore," she said.
And then the most eloquent gesture,
she pressed her knuckles onto her forehead -
"Henry Moore, Michelangelo".
'He was very fond of games, very great sense of fun.'
'Sometimes this came out in the things that he did
'whilst you were talking quite seriously.'
In fact, Henry Moore never switched off the sculptural part of his mind.
As you were sitting there with him,
he was quite literally sizing you up, weighing you up.
I can think of several instances of a sort of instinct
that was always there.
Talking with him about sculpture and his interlocking pieces,
he simply illustrated the idea by taking some potato crisps
out of the basin on the bar
and fixing them together in different ways to make his point.
Another time, after we had been filming,
we were sitting having dinner in the hotel
and enjoying the meal and enjoying the chianti,
and he suddenly looked at me and said,
"I bet I can tell you the circumference of your head."
Well, I haven't the foggiest idea.
But he guessed and he measured it with a tape measure
cos he always carried a tape measure in his pocket.
You would never find Henry Moore anywhere in the world
without this little tape measure.
And he measured my head and he got it right within quarter of an inch.
He then went round everybody else in the film unit -
the production assistant, the camera and the camera assistant,
the sound recordist - measured all their heads,
got every one of them absolutely dead right.
And we were very impressed with this
so we went into the hotel lounge for coffee.
It was a very respectable hotel, and we sat down on the chintz sofa
and we said, "Well, come on, Henry, how high is the coffee table?"
He took out his tape measure - "23 inches."
It was, he had won again.
"How high is the lamp standard? What about the sideboard?"
And here was this amazing scene and England's greatest sculptor
on his hands and knees with a tape measure, measuring up
all the furniture to the rather tipsy applause of the film crew.
In 1972, now in his 74th year,
the mayor of Florence invited Moore to arrange an exhibition
in the grounds of the Belvedere fortress that overlooked the city.
It was to be the most spectacular and comprehensive exhibition
of his lifetime.
It was in a wonderful open-air setting,
in the brilliant Italian sunshine
and surrounded by some of the greatest art of the Renaissance.
At the time, Moore saw the opportunity as a challenge
to show that his own work could stand in comparison
with the best of the Renaissance, with Masaccio and Michelangelo.
He had, after all, been to Florence as a student,
many, many years before to study just those very works.
Looking back on that exhibition now,
it seems to me that it was a triumph of vindication.
Not only of the authority of Henry Moore's work,
but also of the whole modern movement.
In four months, nearly 400,000 people came from all over the world
to see the exhibition.
Nothing could have been less like the inhibiting atmosphere
of a museum or gallery.
The placing of modern sculpture in a setting of Renaissance beauty
was a provocative act of faith.
The mood of the visitors was easy and relaxed,
for in Florence art is taken for granted as a natural part of life.
The citizens of Florence took the exhibition to their hearts
and proudly put its exhibits to uses the artist had not foreseen.
Sculptures were photographed
as if they were film stars, religious relics or fashion models.
At times, the terraces of the Belvedere
had the atmosphere of a fairground or festival.
It was a public pleasure ground, filled with movement and people
and prospects of sculpture that continually changed
with the time of day or the vagaries of the weather.
In the Renaissance, Michelangelo had nothing worse to face
than the patient and deferential Vasari,
the first biographer of the great artists of his time.
Moore turned out in the rain to face television cameras
and journalists with deadlines to meet and planes to catch.
The great cathedral dome by Brunelleschi,
the famous tower designed by Giotto,
the museums and churches filled with works
by Fra Angelico, Botticelli, Masaccio and Michelangelo
all slipped by,
an out-of-focus backdrop to a modern artist in the news.
The big sculptures in the open air, each one sited by Moore himself,
were what made this exhibition unique.
One would have had to travel the world
to see so much at any other time.
This two-piece reclining figure is Moore's half-scale model
for a work which stands in the Lincoln Center, New York.
Oval with Points is one of his latest pieces.
One edition of this is at Princeton University, America.
This reclining figure, made in the 1950s,
is the model for the much larger UNESCO figure,
which stands in Paris, carved from Roman travertine marble.
Crucifixion Form, bronze, 1955.
The best-known version of this stands on the top of a mountain in Scotland.
Reclining Figure: Arch Leg. One copy in California, another in Jerusalem.
Torso, 1967. There are nine casting of this.
There is such a demand for Moore's work
that editions of six or seven are quite usual.
King and Queen, 1952.
There are editions of this
in Scotland, London, Germany and New York.
Square Form with Cut, 1970,
solid marble from Carrara.
JOHN READ: Of course, at the time nobody believed for a minute
that that retrospective exhibition in Florence was going to be
the last Henry Moore retrospective.
In fact, his exhibitions continued year after year
in almost every country in the world.
But sculpture is a tough, hard trade,
and gradually, as he got older, Moore turned more and more to drawing.
Now, drawing he used to do
simply to find out what he wanted to do in sculpture.
It was a means to an end or a way of training his eye.
But now he was doing drawing for its own sake.
HENRY MOORE: I've always been fascinated by sheep.
I think there's something about sheep which no other animal,
er, for me, has quite that ancient...
biblical, er, quality.
And I began drawing the sheep,
just merely because I couldn't do my sculpture,
not because I intend doing, um...a sculpture sheep
but merely because I enjoy drawing...
..and I enjoy sheep,
so that, for two or three weeks, while the packing was going on,
I came down here each day and drew the sheep.
And one of the things that I found one could do
was that, if they came near the window, by tapping on the window,
the sheep couldn't see inside,
because it's darker in here than it is in the field,
but they were curious. They could hear.
And they'd stand, even for five minutes,
just looking in this way, just looking through,
trying to find out where the noise came from,
and they'd stay like that for nearly five minutes,
giving me the chance to draw them.
I got to understand the shape of the sheep better through drawing them.
To begin with, they were just round, fluffy lumps,
balls of wool, it seemed.
But underneath that, one discovered that of course there is the, um...
..the skeleton and the form of the sheep.
And gradually, I went on drawing them,
I understood the shape of the sheep.
Now I find that I can draw for its own sake,
and not as I used to,
with an ultimate motive in the drawing of using it for sculpture.
Now I can draw and just enjoy the drawing,
just enjoy drawing from life, drawing from nature.
But I shall finish this, probably, as a kind of life cycle of sheep,
because after this period, which I missed by being in Italy,
there's a period when the sheep are shorn,
and then they become entirely different creatures.
I saw it happen, but I wasn't able to spend the time drawing.
You must be able to guess the right, er, proportions, otherwise you won't.
I mean, your eye has to be a correct eye.
You must know whether a thing is too black or too light,
but it isn't the black and the lightness, and it isn't the...
You've got to think of it as form, you've got to use perspective.
A thing that comes nearer to you
is bigger than a thing that's further away.
And often, with students drawing a figure, like me drawing you,
they'll make, instead of making your foot and knee bigger in proportion,
the same kind of length to it that it would be if you were standing up
and all in the same plane.
All those kind of things are things that one learns
only by a lot of thinking.
I mean, again, people think that artists
are people that work for pleasure, by instinct,
and without ever using their minds.
There's a bigger intellectual effort in learning to draw properly,
which Leonardo showed it and Michelangelo showed it.
Those had great intellects.
It isn't a God-given gift to everybody, that they can just draw.
Lately, I've been drawing trees,
because the trunks of trees are remarkably like human figures.
I do a close-up.
This, to me, is like a knuckle or a knee or a breast,
but there is the solidity and the body, the meat in it.
And here I was just drawing the trunk and the kind of mother and child,
or the big and the small, the big trunk and then the ivy growing up it.
I think if I were an educationalist,
I'd suggest that drawing should be made
much more necessary or regular in schools,
not because you're trying to make
a nation of painters or sculptors or artists
but only because you teach grammar and literature
not because you're trying to make another lot of Shakespeares
but to make them understand and use language.
Well, in the same way,
I think drawing is a tremendous eye-opener to people,
and it would make their lives much richer.
Moore, I think, somewhere talked about art as being
a stimulation to greater effort in living,
"effort" rather than "enjoyment".
But then, for him, you see, work WAS enjoyment.
I once asked him what he felt
about the general attitude to culture in a modern age....
..because there are times, in fact, when one wonders, really,
whether there are not more important things than the arts.
And he admitted with me that, in fact,
for many people the arts were not the most important thing in life,
not, certainly, as important to them
as they would be to him, to a practising artist.
But, he said, can you name a single civilisation in the past
which we don't know about through its arts and its crafts
rather than its laws or any other aspects, its politics?
It's the arts and the crafts by which we judge them.
And he said, every time in history when a civilisation goes down,
the arts decay first.
Art, he said, is really like in a chemical formula,
the thing that they call a catalytic agent.
It's a tiny, tiny, small element within the whole,
and yet without it nothing happens.
Art, to him, is the catalyst of society and of civilisation.
When he could work no more with the solid forms of sculpture,
his mind turned to imaginary visions,
mysterious images where forms emerge from darkness.
In fluid and airy drawings
there were vague suggestions of shapes and hills, spires,
and one felt the mists might clear
and a new world of form might be revealed.
Now, around the fields and woods of the countryside,
where he has worked for so many years,
his sculptures give me
a tremendous physical feeling of reassurance and of wellbeing.
It not only comes from the protective maternal forms
that he's exploited all his life. One might expect that.
But also from works which give off immense energies and powers.
They are symbols of endurance and tenacity.
In the fields around his home,
he's placed images as monumental as Stonehenge
and infinitely more humane.
Speaking from Henry Moore's own studio in Perry Green, Hertfordshire, John Read shares his personal memories of the artist he filmed six times over 28 years. (1986)