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Family Group #1, 1948-49

Henry Moore

English, 1898-1986
Bronze, Edition of 4
60 x 44-1/2 x 30-1/4 in. (152.4 x 113.0 x 76.8 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation, Gift of Mr. Norton Simon
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2015 / Reproduction, including downloading of Moore works is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

On view

A sculptor heavily influenced by the Surrealist style, Henry Moore became the voice of Modernist sculpture in 1930s England and quickly gained international recognition for his monumental outdoor works. These sculptures typically depict abstract human forms that, though very large, convey a graceful fluidity and unification that belie their magnitude, reflecting the artist’s desire for his works to be thought of as a celebration of life, family and nature.

Moore himself explained the reason behind his conceptualization of human figures in an interview in 1959: “If you see a friend in the distance, you don’t recognize him by the color of his eyes (these you are unable to see) but by the total effect made by his figure—the general disposition of the forms.”

Family Group #1 illustrates this idea to perfection. Within the bronze sculpture exist three stylized figures—a mother, a father and a child. Though they have very sparse features, the anatomy shown is enough for the viewer to ‘fill in the blanks’ and recognize the shapes as human, thereby evoking a reflexive empathy for the family scene depicted. However, in addition to encouraging automatic recognition, the style also helps the sculpture achieve a tone of great intimacy—while both adult figures maintain their distinction as separate entities, their outstretched arms fuse and blend, becoming one with the figure of their child.

Audio Listen to an excerpt from the audio tour


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