Working Model for Two Piece Reclining Figure: Cut signed and numbered 'Moore 6/9' (on the base) bronze with a brown patina 95 cm. long (37 1/2 in.)
Provenance: From the Estate of Charmaine and Maurice Kaplan to benefit the University of California, San Diego
Literature: Alan Bowness (Ed.), Henry Moore, Volume 5, Sculpture 1974-1980, Lund Humphries, London, 1983, cat.no.757, pl.168 & 169 (ill.b&w)
The generosity of philanthropists Charmaine and Maurice Kaplan benefited a variety of arts groups and other nonprofits in the San Diego region, including the University of California, San Diego. For more than two decades, the Kaplans helped some of the leading cultural and educational organizations raise money for building projects or productions. The couple displayed endless dedication to the growth of the university and the betterment of the San Diego community
Maurice Kaplan, a former law professor and corporate executive, died at age 94 in June 2007. Although he gave up working full time in 1991, he immediately launched a second career in philanthropy that resulted in his membership on several nonprofit boards and committees. Charmaine, a philanthropist and art collector, died just one month after her husband in their Rancho Santa Fe home she was 67.
As long-time supporters of UC San Diego, the Kaplan estate included gifts to the university, such as the Henry Moore sculpture, Working Model for Two Piece Reclining Figure: Cut. Proceeds of the sale of the Moore sculpture will go to the UC San Diego Foundation to equally benefit the universitys Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Rebecca and John Moores UCSD Cancer Center two areas that were of key importance to the Kaplans.
Since its founding just 45 years ago, the University of California, San Diego has rapidly achieved status as one of the top institutions in the nation for higher education and research. One of ten campuses in the world-renowned University of California system, UC San Diego enrolls more than 28,000 students each year and offers degrees in a variety of disciplines, including seven professional schools. Nationally ranked as the 8th best public university by U.S. News and World Report, UC San Diego has also been named by Newsweek as the 'hottest' institution to study science. With higher educations share of state revenue declining each year, the university must increasingly rely on financial support from private sources. Gifts made by alumni, parents and friends play an important role in keeping UCSD at the forefront of academic and research excellence.
During their 35 years of marriage, Charmaine and Maurice Kaplan were recognized for their extensive art collection that ranged from paintings to arts and crafts to sculptures including the present work by Henry Moore.
Henry Moore was undoubtedly one of the most influential British sculptors of the 20th Century. This reputation was secured on his talent to push the boundaries of sculpture and engage with the visual dialogue of the international avant-garde in the early 20th Century. Along with the motif of the mother and child, the theme of the reclining female nude obsessed Henry Moore and played a central role to the development of his sculpture through his career as an artist. It says something of the artistic imagination and ingenuity of Moore that he was able to address these two primal subjects time and again, every time with renewed vigour.
Indeed, the basic form of Working Model for Two Piece Reclining Figure: Cut relates very closely to the reclining figure sculpture in the Lincoln Center, New York (LH519), conceived in 1965. In the later work, Anita Feldman Bennet comments, 'The mountainous, rugged, organic forms of the earlier sculpture have become highly abstracted, smoothed over and polished. The result is a figure which is at once elegant and enigmatic.' (see D.Mitchinson, Celebrating Moore: works from the Collection of the Henry Moore Foundation, Lund Humphries, 2006, p.338)
Working Model for Two Piece Reclining Figure: Cut has been realised in four scales. The initial maquette is just twenty centimetres long (LH755), and a further edition of maquettes was created, where each work measures 30 centimetres long (LH756). The entire edition of this second maquette was renamed Architectural Prize as it was purchased by the Hyatt Foundation in Illinois for awarding as the Pritzker Architecural prize. This prize was given to living architects whose work was considered to have 'consistently and significantly contributed to humanity and the built environment.' Sir Norman Foster ranks among the recipients. The present work is one of an edition of nine which are just under 100 centimetres long. Of these, only one has previously been seen at auction, nearly twenty years ago in 1989. The full-scale sculpture (sixteen foot long) was cast in an edition of three (LH758). One of these is in the collection of the Henry Moore Foundation and currently on view at the exhibition at Kew Gardens.
Conceived in 1979, towards the end of his life, Working Model for Two Piece Reclining Figure: Cut demonstrates Moore's consistent ability to innovate and to create works whose hallmark is supreme technical and visual finesse. One of Moore's finest skills as sculptor is his aptitude for controlling the effects of light across the surface of his work and the present lot is no exception. Here, light is truly exploited as it rolls across the undulating forms of the bronze to articulate the reclining female figure. Moore clearly is a master of his art.
It was in the 1930s that Moore's reputation as an artist was truly established. It was in this decade that Moore was secured as part of the international avant-garde, and during which he embraced abstraction. It was also the decade that the hole became a central feature of Moore's work. By the end of the 1970s, as with the present work, Moore had extended the idea of the hole to an actual physical break or cut through the bronze itself, creating works of two or more pieces. The realisation of the reclining form into two or more pieces has been described as Moore's 'final great innovation.'
In Working Model for Two Piece Reclining Figure: Cut the sculpture is realised in two distinct parts. Individually, the two bronze forms seem perhaps to be grounded in the organic shapes of flint as found in nature. Indeed Moore frequently found inspiration from such elements of nature, adding pieces of clay to found bits of bone or stone and using these as a starting point to model his ideas. Some of the most monumental reclining figures and mothers and child were developed organically from such humble roots. In the present work, Moore has effectively brought together two essentially abstract elements into a meaningful juxtaposition. Separately the two pieces of bronze are incoherent abstract sculptures, but placed together they immediately find their visual meaning and the work is able to enter into Moore's canon of reclining figures. Commenting on the larger scale work in the Henry Moore Foundation's collection, curator Suzanne Eustace states, 'Moore has delved into the internal spaces of this form twofold, inviting the viewer to unfold the work and discover its different angles and aspects. The slim torso features a backbone or long plait, harking back to the human source of this abstract composition.' (see A. Feldman and S.Eustace, Moore at Kew, London, 2007, p.84).
The sense of the three-dimensionality of the sculpture is enhanced by the pregnant space between the two forms. The two elements are held in a dynamic tension and the space between them seems highly charged. Independently the two pieces of bronze are abstract but their positioning together electrifies them. As Moore himself stated, 'The two and three piece sculptures were experiments and you must experiment. You do things in which you eliminate something which is perhaps essential, but to learn how essential it is you leave it out. The space then becomes very significant If you are doing a reclining figure you just do the head and the legs. You leave space for the body imagining the other part even though it isnt there. The space then becomes very expressive and you have to get it just right ' (quoted in D.Mitchinson, Loc Cit.)
It is a testament to Moore's utter talent as an artist that he is able to address the subject of the reclining female nude with such vigour throughout his life.