David Smith and Henry Moore are the two great sculptors of the twentieth century who had a great influence on the following artists and had altered the traditional approaches to art in general and sculpture as a medium, specifically. Both came from poor families and, being talented, achieved success in life as artists. Moore had studied art from an early age, while Smith hardly had any art education. However, they both perceived the sculpture as the art that can translate their feelings and thoughts.
Henry Spencer Moor is an artist who was born on July 30, 1898 inEngland in a large family of a simple miner. His father was very concerned with children’s education; therefore, all the children attended the local school. Henry developed a talent for art that helped him to get a scholarship to continue education in CastlefordSecondary school in his hometown. After the World War, at which he was injured, he continued his education at Leeds School of Art being the first student of sculpture. He studied works of many artists and that shaped his outlook on art. Later, Moore studied at the Royal College of Art. At that time, he started experimenting with new styles of artwork. Later, he became involved in the informal art movement that was favoring ideas of artists such as Pablo Picasso, and he was also slightly influenced by surrealism.
During the Second World War, Moor utilized more traditional art forms to create pictures of wartime. These efforts were widely recognized and resulted in numerous awards such as International Sculpture Prize at Venice Biennale. His artwork included not only sculpture, but also graphics, drawing, and textiles although he is the most famous for his bronze and stone figures and monumental works such as famous series of reclining nudes. Some of his late works were executed in marbles. The style of his art is abstract modernism, which is, according to Artlex dictionary, is an “art movement characterized by the deliberate departure from tradition and the use of innovative forms of expression”.
In his artwork, Moore was striving to combine a sculptural form, which was strong and represented power, with human sensitivity, thus trying to bring meaning and humanism into his sculptures. His goal was to make his sculptures so that the viewer could observe many human qualities in it, such as force, vulnerability or vitality, to create the artworks that are not merely shaped from outside, but that have a “soul” that is bursting to get out.
Notably, Moore achieved great success in art and became a major sculptor of his days; however, although he became quite wealthy, he chose to live frugally. In 1951, Queen Elizabeth II wanted to knight him, but he refused, because he did not want to be esteemed too highly. However, Moore received numerous highly acclaimed official honors. Moreover, he established Henry Moore Foundation to help young artists.
In his late years, he returned to the stone sculpture, but was criticized for utilizing help of other younger artists. He died on 31 August 1986 in East Hertfordshire, England, in his home in Much Hadham. He was 88 at that time.
David Roland Smith, or David Smith as he became known, was born on March 9th1906 inDecatur, Indiana, USA in the family of a telephone engineer and a school teacher. His education started at high school in Paulding, Ohio. He then entered Ohio University and, after a year there, he wanted to continue his education at the University of Notre Dame; however, his primary goal in receiving education was to learn art and. Therefore, because there was no art courses in University, he dropped out of it soon and moved to New York. Here, he attended art classes at Art Students League of New York while in many occupations. Besides art classes, which were mainly about painting, he never possessed any formal art education or was trained as sculptor; however, he learned to work with metal during the time he was employed at an automobile plant. He used this knowledge to create sculpture out of welded metal. He was a pioneer in this type of artwork and created the first metal sculpture in 1933. He married an artist, and they together bought land upstate. Here, he created a studio, which he called Terminal Iron Works. He described his style of art expression as “drawing in space”.
He was a simple man and used to drink and enjoyed life to its full extent, although he considered working the most satisfying experience. The structures of his sculptures were designed in such a way that they could be viewed from all around; however, the front view was preferred.
Just like Henry Moore, David Smith was also influenced by Pablo Picasso. The style of his works was abstract expressionism, which sprung forth on the canvas on World War II. Expressionism first emerged in Germany. The main idea behind this movement was to translate artist’s emotions into an artwork. In relation to Smith’s work, expressionism came about as an organic continuation of surrealistic influences of European artists.
Collage had a great influence on Smith’s style of work and, which inspired the artist to experiment with combination of objects and later, with figurative motifs. What is more, Smith tried to combine sculpture and paining, which gave some of his sculptures a 2-dimentional look contrary to the traditional interpretation of a sculpture. Possibly, because Smith did not have any art education, he was able to withdraw from the idea of a core in sculpture. Instead, he used large geometric forms and thin wire to create transparent structures. At the same time, Smith found an innovative approach to composition. His goal was to distance the viewer from the sculpture in order to make the viewer consider the structure and interpret it part-by-part rather than at a glance. The artist was achieving his goal by placing pictorial motifs at the edges of the sculpture making it difficult, therefore, to view the entire structure and force an eye to travel from element to element. Smith also achieved certain level of 3-dimential artwork that had a different view from the front and other sides.
His favorite geometrical figure being a cube, he created many artworks, especially late ones, in cubism.
In addition to his works in stainless steel, he also used bronze at times.
David Smith was gaining many recognitions and awards and had travelled internationally and was appointed to the National Council on the Arts. He was unable to be a part of it because he died on May 23, 1965 inSouth Shaftsbury because of wounds received in a car accident.
Both artists created abstract structures, with Moore using more organic shapes while Smith preferring strict geometric shapes, favoring cubism in his art forms, using heavy steel structures to manage positive and negative spaces and shapes to make an illusion of the sculpture created of air and the movement. Materials used like the curves of the bent metal and its rusted or decorated with pectoral motifs surface help to create successful design of a sculpture. The collage style of creating an artwork presents a challenge in order to achieve unity.
Both artists try to express their views and understanding of the world around them and also their reaction to the political situation, especially in light of the World War I and II they have lived through. Although they may not have been traumatized by the experience, they explicitly expressed their attitudes to the world conditions and human suffering with modernistic views being more upfront and having abstract approach but leaving space for personal interpretation. The function of an art is to translate ideas and views of the artist and to motivate the viewer. It is obvious that both Henry Moore and David Smith achieved that successfully, and their artworks are still a source of inspiration to many with ongoing exhibitions, public sculptures, and museums proud to display great artworks.
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