A monumental work by Henry Moore will be a feature at Bonhams auction of British and Irish art in London on November 17-18. Figure on pedestal, which belongs to a UK Corporation and was acquired directly from the artist in the early 1960′s, is estimated at £1-2 million. Since its conception in 1959-60 casts of this bronze have been exhibited in Europe and the United States. The theme of the reclining nude obsessed Moore and played a central role in the development of his sculpture throughout his career as an artist. He defined his own persona as an artist not so much by endless variety as by his ability to return to a familiar motif and make it new. In so doing, he renewed himself.
Moore commented on his fascination with the recumbent form: ‘I want to be quite free of having to find a ‘reason’ for doing the Reclining Figures, and freer still of having to find a ‘meaning’ for them. The vital thing for an artist is to have a subject that allows [him] to try out all kinds of formal ideas, things that he doesn’t yet know about for certain but wants to experiment with, as Cézanne did in his ‘Bathers’ series. In my case the reclining figure provides chances of that sort. The subject-matter is given. It’s settled for you, and you know it and like it, so that within it, within the subject that you’ve done a dozen times before, you are free to invent a completely new form-idea.’ He once pointed to the maternal element of his Reclining Figures, referring to both womanhood and mother earth. The configuration of Reclining Figure on a Pedestal identified the female form with the undulating landscape and natural forms. The work will be exhibited in New York in October.