Fantasy Conversation with Henry Moore


Pygoya, 1980



Henry Moore: (1937) Appreciation of sculpture depends upon the ability to respond to form in three dimensions. That is perhaps why sculpture has been described as the most difficult of all arts; certainly it is more difficult than the arts; certainly it is more difficult than the arts which involve appreciation of flat forms, shape in only two dimensions. Many more people are "form-blind" than color-blind.

Pygoya: One must practice in three-dimensional work in order to develop that ability to "respond to form in three dimensions."

Moore: There are universal shapes to which everybody is subconsciously conditioned and to which they can respond if their conscious control does not shut them off.

Pygoya: This is analogous to Carl Jung's concept of archtypical symbols in the world that have unconscious universal meaning to all men.

Moore: The hole connects one side to the other, making it immediately more three-dimensional. ... There is a right physical size for every idea. ... Sculpture is more affected by actual size considerations than painting. A painting is isolated by a frame from its surroundings (unless it serves just a decorative purpose) and so retains more easily its own imaginary scale. ... All good art has contained both abstract and surrealist elements, just as it has contained both classical and romantic elements - order and surprise, intellect and imagination, conscious and unconscious. BOTH SIDES of the artist's personality must play their part.

Pygoya: That the artist should turn off the rational and analytical is narrow-minded and impossible - at least in order to create good art.

Moore: ... a point arrives when some idea becomes conscious and crystallizes, and then a control and ordering begin to take place. ... I am very much aware that associational, psychological factors play a large part in sculpture. The meaning and significance of form itself probably depends on the countless associations of man's history. ... these shapes are important I think because they have this background in our habits of perception... I think the humanist organic element will always be for me a fundamental importance in sculpture, giving sculpture its vitality. Each particular carving I make takes on in my mind a human, or occasionally animal character and personality, and this personality controls its design and formal qualities, and makes me satisfied or dissatisfied with the work as it develops. ... I can present the human psychological content of my work with the greatest directness and intensity.

Pygoya: I think the "countless associational, psychological factors" include not "man's history" but the evolutionary mental process of becoming man, as recorded or embedded in our multi-leveled states of consciousness, crudely delineated by others as merely the "conscious" and the "unconscious." I always draw from my sense of naturalism as I play with the abstract.