His early sculptures of the 1920s, show the influences of Central American pre-Columbian art, and the massive figures of the Italian Renaissance (he particualrly liked Michaelangelo's work).
Moore helped introduce a paricular form of modernism to the United Kingdom. He became well known for his larger scale absract cast bronze and marble sculptures.
By the 1930s his works had become highly abstract, consisting of simplified, rounded pieces carved from wood, with numerous indentations and holes often spanned with veils of thin metal wires. His main themes include mother-and-child and family groups, fallen warriors, and, most characteristically, the reclining human figure.
Barbara Hepworth [British Abstract Sculptor, 1903-1975]
Relationships: Wife of Ben Nicholson (1938-1951). (printmaker and mixed media)
English sculptor, one of the most important figures in the development of abstract art in Britain She trained at Leeds School of Art, where she became a friend of Henry Moore, and at the Royal College of Art. Her early sculptures were quasi-naturalistic and had much in common with Moore’s work (Doves, Manchester City Art Gal., 1927), but she already showed a tendency to submerge detail in simple forms, and by the early 1930s her work was entirely abstract.
She worked both in wood and stone, and she described an important aspect of her early career as being the excitement of discovering the nature of carving’-this at a time when there was a general antagonism to direct carving’. In this, too, she was united with Moore, but her work, unlike his, is not representational in origin but conceived as abstract forms. Yet she consistently professed a Romantic attitude of emotional affinity with nature, speaking of carving both as a biological necessity’ and as an extension of the telluric forces which mould the landscape’
Ultimately this piece of carved marble, like so much else that Hepworth produced, is not an image of anything other than itself. It is a unique entity, a presence that absorbs and reflects whatever associations the viewer brings to or takes from it. As Hepworth herself said in her autobiography, “ It is difficult to describe in words the meaning of forms because it is precisely the emotion which is conveyed by sculpture alone… ” And yet she has provided words to accompany this object, surprisingly precise words, and it is worth considering what light the title sheds upon the sculpture. Minoan Head is a late work, but stylistically it has much in common with the sculpture Hepworth produced in the 1930s, when she was moving away from representations of the human body towards more purely abstract forms.
The title suggests a way of seeing, provides one of a potentially limitless number of interpretations. As Paul Nash, himself an abstract artist, wrote when reviewing an exhibition of Hepworth’s sculpture in 1932:
“ Each object is purely sculptural – the embodiment of an idea neither literary, naturalistic, nor philosophical but simply formal: Its meaning is itself, itself the only meaning. ”
Barbara Hepworth, Oval Sculpture, 1943 , Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, UK