Henry Moore | East Campus

Henry Moore

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

Reclining Figure is a smaller-scale working model for the sculpture located at Lincoln Center in New York City (1963-65). (A third version is installed on the grounds of Henry Moore’s estate in Hertfordshire, England.) While the New York version is set within a reflecting pool, the MIT sculpture stands on a granite base, fully exposing the monumental legs.

At the time of its commission, Reclining Figure was the largest work Moore had yet undertaken. In order to produce this sculpture in conditions that would best approximate outdoor light, Moore built an open-air garden studio and covered it with transparent plastic sheeting. He later used this studio for all his large sculptures intended for outdoor sites. Less gentle and rounded than MIT’s three-part figure, these severe and heavy elements indicate Moore’s abiding interest in natural forms, from bone fragments to ancient geological formations.

Building Number: E25

Accession Number: 1985.003

Audio Transcript

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.