Working Model for Reclining Figure (Lincoln Center), 1963
96 in. x 138 in. x 68 in. (243.84 cm x 350.52 cm x 172.72 cm)
Gift of Vera Glaser List in memory of Samuel Glaser, Class of 1925
An adventurous tour of MIT’s more remote buildings. Best followed in the evening so that night has fallen for the later pieces.
This tour was created by Joseph Faraguna, class of 2020, in Bioengineering and with a minor in Computer Science. Faraguna was a List Center Student Guide for all four years of his undergraduate career.
Sculptor Henry Moore cast this bronze figure as a model for a larger piece later installed at Lincoln Center. Much of Moore’s work revolved around the reclining figure motif. He was inspired by massive basalt carvings of pre-Columbian, Mesoamerican chacmool figures. In addition, Moore often explored using natural forms, both as inspiration for his pieces and as physical tools he would cast or press into the smaller models. His use of bones, shells, wood, and stone gave his pieces uniquely natural and rough textures. While Moore was designing Reclining Figure, he built an open-air garden studio to best approximate outdoor light. What properties of outdoor light do you think Moore was most interested in replicating? How would the piece behave under steady artificial light?
Building Number: E25
Accession Number: 1985.003
The reclining figure was a frequent motif for artist Henry Moore, the more significant British sculptor of the 20th century. But this cast bronze work, "Reclining Figure, Working Model for Lincoln Center," sculpture from 1963 conjures more monumental natural forms. Anita Feldman, Head of Collections and Exhibitions at the Henry Moore Foundation.
From the end of the 1950s, he started fragmenting the human form in order to make each of its parts resemble topographical elements from nature. So the torso starts to look like a cliff face, and various parts of the body resemble rock formations.
Moore did more than make his sculptures look like nature. He literally incorporated elements of nature into his work.
For this sculpture in particular, he's using parts of animal bones and parts of flintstones, and casting their impressions in plaster. And he ends up with a plaster sculpture small enough to hold in his hand.
From there, he developed this much larger working model, which helped him envision the final version to be displayed in a reflecting pool at Lincoln Center in New York City.
Today there are many sculptors who say their works are site-specific. If you move the sculpture, then you're, in effect, destroying it. But Moore was not like that.
I think he welcomed that, because sculpture itself is an ever-changing journey. And so by changing the setting, you're just inviting new interpretations and a new context. And it's all part of that experience.
You can find commentary on Moore's other work at MIT on the List website.