The upheaval of the revolt against the tradition and realism of Modernism pioneered the launch of the avant-garde movements of the early 20th century visual arts. Among the contemporary manifestos, Cubism emerged as one of the most unconventional styles redefining the boundaries and hierarchies of Fine Art. Picasso, the defining character of this movement, perpetuated this reaction to the past and like many others sought out of the confinement of the European culture, in favor of the "other" heritages; This exploration allowed him to introduce and incorporate the disguised notion to the realm of the avant-garde art. At around the same time another Modernist artist was fascinated with the corollaries of avant-garde art and sculpture: Henry Moore. He too like Picasso was inspired by the dissemination of the "otherness" into the new acquiescent avant-garde art. Both Picasso and Moore looked up to the forefathers of Modernism by undertaking what they started: the abolishment of the traditional Fine Art dispositions and ultimately emancipating the old from the new in the art of early 20th century Modernism. Picasso and Moore achieved their avant-garde ambitions through assimilating notions of Primitivism, innovative materials, and alteration of spatial experience.
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Amid the start of the European conquests and the Colonization, the West was introduced to many mysterious and unusual cultures; this notion was facilitated mainly through the trade that was amplified by virtue of the innovations and technological advancements of the Industrial Revolution. Among these cultural importations, primitive art - above all, the African masks - greatly influenced the avant-garde art of the early 20th century. Evidently Moore and Picasso were two of the many artists who were influenced and who collected these masks. The debate whether Picasso borrowed from primitive art or not is still withstanding among various scholars. Though Picasso refutes what many of his cubist contemporaries and critiques have to say about his awareness and fascination with African masks, his commissioner - Gerstein Stein - "reproached him of using African art as a crutch" in creating her portrait. In contrast to Picasso, Moore admits that he was inspired from this escalating interest of the West in Primitive art. The evidence of Moore's introduction of the Primitive in his work began in the 1930s during which he produced a variety of stone figures. "The facial features of these figures were distinguished by a concave, heart shaped form in which the eyes protrude as small, raised craters." These attributions displayed on his stone figurines were an extraction from those of the African masks, which originated from several African tribes - markedly the Ba-Lega tribe of the North-Eastern Congo. Moore also perpetuated his sculptural skills and techniques through the study of Rodin-largely perceived to be the pioneer of Modern sculpture. For Moore the study of the human body was the foundation for all creative action in order to achieve a precise understanding of anatomy; he consistently recommended drawings from living models. Moore's early works meticulously mimic the very fundamental motifs of nature and anatomy that can be traced back in Rodin's works:
Rodin taught me a lot about the body; its asymmetry from every point of view, how to avoid rigid symmetry, the flexible parts of the body, the head, jaw, neck, thorax, pelvis, knees etc., and that these axes should not parallel each other. These were the ways of giving the figure vitality. -Henry Moore
Cezanne to Picasso was like Rodin to Moore; Picasso commended Cezanne's picturesque novelties by incorporating his signature pictorial compositions, such as the foreground tree in favor of abstraction of perspective and optical illusions, and upon close study of Cezanne's oeuvre. By way of Primitive defining features, both Picasso and Moore establish their inclination and receptiveness to the "other" cultures; Along with their fascination with the Primitive and following the footsteps of the forefathers of Modern art, the first avant-garde movement of the 20th century blossomed: Cubism.
Materials are an imperative aspect in all fields of art, may it be high or low art being discussed. The types of materials used in the 20th century have been assorted and diverse in their utilization. The works of Picasso and Moore are similar in nature since they integrated low-art and commercialized materials into their oeuvre and thereby challenged the realm of high-art and high culture. Henry Moore, in the same way that Cubists had done in the domain of Modernist paintings, diversified the field of sculpting by introducing unusual and unique materials such as: "stone - alabaster, ironstone, Corsehill stone, African wonder stone, bird's-eye marble; wood - ebony, beech wood, walnut, lignum-vitae; metals- lead and bronze. It also includes terra cotta and cast stone and various combinations of string and wire with wood and metal." By using such diverse materials, Moore wished to achieve "an element of colour interest that often lacked in the completed work of a sculptor." This notion is a deviation and a contrast to the works of cubists since Moore never sought to apply the colour directly to his work. Furthermore, both Moore and Picasso achieved the drainage of traditional allegories in their works through rendering the featured materials in their most pure form and composition, emphasizing the mundane character of the avant-garde art - which later came to reach its pinnacle in the manifestation of the Ready-Made concept. The avant-garde Cubists, such as Picasso and Braque, completely revamped the field of high-art painting through introducing radical techniques and materials that questioned and abolished everything that came to embody and represent the perceived-to be-exemplary paintings of the Old Masters. Similarly, Moore followed the path of his avant-garde contemporaries but in a divergent field in which he excelled: avant-garde sculpting.
Always on Time
Marked to Standard
Moore and Picasso draw many associations and disparities in the aesthetic compositions of their oeuvre. Moore's sculptures capture and take advantage of the void space in and around the work in order to activate its presence and at times inviting the spectator to become part of its anecdotal dimension; this concept reaches its full potential in his outdoor sculptures. Moore's Oval with Points typifies this notion by composing the surrounding dense air as part of the opus. "The surfaces which delimit the openings are frequently not convex but are concave, forming hollow containers of space. Wherever such concavities dent or perforate the sculptural body, a puddle of air seems to fill them almost tangibly." Whereas Moore's sculptures embody their immediate surroundings by morphing and unifying the spatial proximities- yielding a unique rhythm and harmony- Picasso's Cubist sculptures hinder and struggle against the continuum of spatial harmony; In his Guitar, Picasso calls for deconstruction of form and bulging convexities. This Cubist sculpture retorts to the penetration of air and entails an aggressive composition that disrupts its bounding spatial harmony through dissemination of the notions of Deconstructivism. This notion of Deconstructivism had existed before in the Cubist paintings, in which the faceted forms take on a role of simultaneity - depicting different dimensions during different times concurrently - to redefine the conventional experience of space for the viewer. The dichotomy between Moore's and Picasso's treatment of immediate surroundings is alternatively expressed in other manifestations of space: the vivacity of the sculpture. Moore's sculptures achieve their liveliness through absorbing and embracing the harmony of space. By creating vivacious spaces of amusement, the sculptures call the spectator upon a close examination of the work and overall create a welcoming experience.
For me a work must first have vitality of its own. I do not mean a reflection of the vitality of life, of movement, physical action. Frisking, dancing figures and so on, but that a work can have in it a pent-up energy, an intense life of its own, independent of the object it may represent.
However, this is not the case in Cubists works: Picasso's Guitar pierces through its surrounding space by interrogating the conventions of sculpting and in turn creating an overall confrontational experience for its viewers. The notion of confronting and incorporation of the viewer as part of the interrogational motif of the work can be best exemplified in Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon where he best attains this notion through various elements, such as the piercing gaze of the prostitutes, the phallic symbols and sexual innuendoes, that create an overall bizarre atmosphere for the spectators inevitably involving them as part of the happening.
Picasso and Moore through the aforementioned notions and techniques redefined the fields of painting and sculpture; they bridged the gap between the forefathers of Modernism and the avant-garde art of the 20th century by projecting and disseminating their innovative and revolutionizing oeuvre. The turmoil of the 20th century with its wars, economic depressions, and cultural downfalls sparked many radical movements such as Dada, Surrealism, and Pop Art of which they owe their mere existence to the founders of the fundamental beginnings of early avant-garde art such as Picasso and Moore.