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Comparision of European Field and Large Reclining Figure September 22, 2010

Filed under: Writings — chicapod @ 8:50 pm

 European Field by Antony Gormley, 1992

Large Reclining Figure by Henry Moore

Which artwork, Large Reclining Figure by Henry Moore or European Field by Antony Gromley is more successful in conveying its meaning?

Based on my personal opinion, I feel that Large Reclining figure is more successful at conveying its meaning. I understand that Antony Gormley’s purpose of creating European Field was to portray all the 35000 tiny unbaked clay figurines as part of the whole, since the figures fill up the entire area of the exhibition space, and this signifies the audience as part of the whole picture: the audience and the artwork, It fells as though while the viewer is looking at the 35000 clay figurines, the 35000 figurines are staring back, giving one an overwhelming sense of impact. Even though each clay figurine is smaller than life and looks harmless, the total 35000 figurines exert a certain amount of pressure on the viewer. The enclosed space of the exhibition hall also gives a claustrophobic feeling, with so many things contained in a limited area.

However, the Large Reclining Figure by Henry Moore is different. Moore believes truth to material, where the material used to create his sculpture is an inspiration to him. It attaches closely to the posture of the reclining figure, giving and filling in the whole meaning of his art.  The simplified and curvaceous form of the Large Reclining Figure is elegant and simplified; it brings out the essence of the human reclining posture to the sculpture with just simple lines and curves, representing the parts of the human figure. Based on my contextual knowledge, I understand that due to Moore’s experience in World War 2, his sculpture depict the halfway state between life and death, with lying down symbolizing death and sitting or standing symbolizing life. The reclining position is somewhere between sitting down and standing up, therefore showing the phase between life and death. I think that his interpretation of life and death is very meaningful and interesting in this case.

The smoothness and curves of the sculpture gives it a touch of fragility yet exuding a silent strength at the same time, contrasting the use of hard material and soft form, constructing a “soft, melting figure”. The size of the figure is much larger than life, giving the viewer yet another imposing presence. Tender yet aggressive, nostalgic and emotional, the Large Reclining Figure does not give one a sense of detachment like when looking at the European Field (the viewers cannot enter the exhibition hall, but is forced to see the whole mass of figurines from a fixed point).

Hence, I think that the Large Reclining Figure by Henry Moore is more successful in conveying its meaning than European Field by Antony Gromley.


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