Created By: Stephen Amiss
Sited first at Bucklebury, the country home of Sir Robert and Lady Sainsbury, and moved to the SCVA 20 August 1980, facing World Art and Museums Studies School entrance, to the north west of the site; moved in 1991 near the bridge entrance to the SCVA to avoid the building work for Rick Mather’s Constable Terrace, and then again in 2007-2009 inside the foyer of the Crescent Wing to avoid the upgrading work on Lasdun's ziggurats, returned in November 2009. The sculpture, one of an edition of eight, was prepared in 1956 in a maquette, preserved in a series of ten small bronzes in private collections (Henry Moore Foundation LH 401) while the original plaster (now in the Art Gallery of Ontario - AGW119) was cast in bronze between 1961-2. Moore also produced an upright wooden version of the figure, LH403.
Moore said of the series: ‘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.’ Moore had first experimented with the theme of the reclining woman – his equivalent of Cezanne’s bathers – in his stone 1927 Reclining Woman now in a private collection, where the simplified block like forms, the twisting pose and the relationship of the figure’s knees reveal his interest in Mexican sculpture, notably Chacmool in the Yucatan Regional Museum. He continued with the theme throughout his career and here in 1956 the attenuated forms, simplified head and stump like legs betray his absorption of Picasso’s post cubist figure style – the Three Dancers of 1925 for instance, handled with a confident mastery of form. The statue had to be removed during the building works on upgrading the nearby Lasdun Ziggurats from 2005-2009. A new site was needed because of the revised network of paths and the choice was further constrained since a sculpture of this size could not be placed on the lawn above the Crescent Wing, the extension added to the Sainsbury Centre by Foster Associates in 1991.
This point of interest is part of the tour: UEA Sculpture Trail