The Kemper Art Museum’s Spotlight Series of online essays invites both established and emerging scholars to offer an array of perspectives on a range of artworks in the Museum’s collection. Each season gallery talks provide visitors the chance to join the authors for deeper analysis and stimulating conversation.
Tola Porter, PhD student in the Department of Art History and Archaeology in Arts & Sciences, will lead a discussion on Henry Moore's Reclining Figure (1933). Reclining Figure is an early example of Henry Moore’s exploration of the sculptural potential of the reclining female figure, a recurring motif throughout his entire career. In the Western artistic canon, examples of this motif occur across art historical periods, from the recumbent Aphrodite on the Parthenon (438–432 BC), to Titian’s Venus of Urbino (1538), to Edouard Manet’s Olympia (1863). In contrast to these, Reclining Figure’s abstracted and exaggerated body contours, reduced head and hands, and thin tubular extensions running from torso to knees display the influence of Surrealism. Indeed, Reclining Figure was included in the 1936 International Surrealist Exhibition in London, the first major manifestation of the Surrealist movement in England. Additionally, Moore’s nontraditional use of reinforced concrete points to the experimental nature of this period in his practice. In her talk, Porter will explore the implications of the formal choices Moore made in Reclining Figure and the work’s significance within Moore’s career.
Available in the Museum shop, Spotlights: Collected by the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum features a selection of 46 Spotlight essays, highlights from the ongoing scholarly project. Members receive a 10% discount.