I was recently asked what is the one art piece I covet and, assuming price were no object, I replied without hesitation it would be a Henry Moore sculpture. I can think of no other artwork that so effortlessly captures the human form and transforms it into a modern abstract beauty. A Henry Moore sculpture not only demands to be admired, it also draws you close to caress its gentle curves and luscious surfaces in ways that other sculpture doesn’t. Moore’s Working Model for Reclining Figure: Bone Skirt of 1977-79 may just be my idea of perfection.
Henry Moore (1898-1986) is probably best known for his huge bronze sculptures that dot the world’s parks and public spaces. One of his trademarks are his reclining figures – a pose said to have been inspired by a Mayan figure seen at the Louvre. The pose strikes us as unusual because in contrast to the Hellenic and Roman sculptures that show a figure in repose on their side, Moore’s figure gazes forward raised up on her elbows almost in a birthing position. I like this piece because the pose makes me slightly uneasy; there is an element of discomfort to it. Good art should always challenge you.
This Henry Moore sculpture will be offered at Bonhams in New York on 4 November 2014 as part of their Impressionist and Modern Art auction. It’s consigned from the estate of Lauren Bacall, the Hollywood legend who died earlier this year. She personally knew Moore from whom she directly bought this and other pieces. It’s always interesting when two great icons meet; Bacall wrote a touching letter to Moore after their first meeting in which she notes: “Some say it is dangerous to meet one’s idols – but in your case – and this is true – you went far beyond expectation.”
Bone Skirt is an exceptional piece of art bought directly from the artist by the Hollywood legend that always kept it by her side and was therefore never in circulation. Combine this with its superb condition and you can be sure this will be a highly contested Henry Moore sculpture and one of the highlights of the New York art season.
Richard Rabel is a New York Interior Designer and Principal at Richard Rabel: Interiors+ Art, a design studio offering residential design, decorating and art advising services.
image credit: Bonhams, New York. Impressionist and Modern Art; Lot 58; Property from the Estate of Lauren Bacall, Henry Moore, Working Model for Reclining Figure: Bone Skirt. Sale 4 November 2014. Viewing 31 October – 4 November 2014. Estimate: US$600,000 – 800,000