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Henry Moore was once asked by a puzzled neighbor, "Mr. Moore, what use
is what you're doing?" Moore replied, " Art hasn't any practical
value. All it does is to help us to live a full human life."
Question: When did you first realize you wanted to be a sculptor?
Moore: I knew I wanted to be a sculptor when I was seven or eight. At
the elementary school, the lesson I looked forward to most wasn't
arithmetic, it wasn't algebra. It was a drawing lesson in the last
half hour on a Friday afternoon, when the teacher was tired and
everybody was looking forward to the weekend. For me it was the one
lesson of the week that I enjoyed most. And it was the same when I got
to grammar school.
Question: What [other] works of art move you deeply?
Moore: . . . For me, really great art enlarges existence into something
more significant than everyday life, giving some kind of importance to
it, a monumentality and grandeur. Cezanne has done it in painting a
basket of apples. He gave monumentality to it.
Question: What advice would you give to people who want to experience
art more deeply?
Moore: You just can't give them specific advise. You must influence
people gradually by being sympathetic. If a young person came to me
and asked what advice I'd give him, I'd tell him to see as much of past
sculpture as he could, from primitive times to the present day.
Perhaps more important, I would tell him to spend years and years
learning to draw. You learn to draw because drawing makes you look.
You may do a very bad drawing, but if you try to draw something, you
look much more intensely than if you just look. And this is its value.
I would make drawing a part of general education for everybody. . .I
mean we teach music in school. And yet using your eyes is just as
important as using your ears and using your brain for words and using
your body for playing games. Trying to live a full human life means
using all one's senses, and that's what the arts are for. To make life
richer than it would be without art.
Question: Why does the artist do it [make art]?
Moore: To express himself. To learn. I do it to learn more about
nature and life though my eyes and hands. To learn more about the
world, more about form, more about anything, whatever it is.
Other significant quotes from Moore:
Understanding the human body should be the basis of understanding all
other form. I can find in a tree trunk very human qualities.
The purpose of art is not to make money. It's not for anything
practical. It's to make us as human beings understand. particularly
through our senses, what a wonderful world we live in.
Art is to help people get a wonderment--it isn't just pleasure. It's
more than pleasure when you really see a great work of art. When one
first sees Chartres Cathedral, it's something much, much more than
pleasure. It's a wonderment, it's an uplift in life. And people ask
what use is it. Art isn't any use in the sense that we can eat it.
CRAIG ROLAND. Associate Professor-Art Education.
School of Art and Art History, FAC 302,
University of Florida, Gainesville Florida.
32611-5801. (352) 392-9165 - Art Ed Office (352) 392-8453 - Fax
new email address: rolandc