THE LIFE OF HENRY MOORE by Roger Berthoud

THE LIFE OF HENRY MOORE

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

If William Parker's 1985 biography of Henry Moore was flawed by its hagiographic tone, Berthoud's takes a more critical, though still admiring, look at its subject. As the author states, ""When much that had been written was so eulogistic, a more astringent approach seemed to be needed."" Berthoud has added a few warts and wens to previous Moore portraits, but even with imperfections, the British sculptor remains a lackluster subject for biography. Though Berthoud does his best to pump suspense into his narrative, the events of Moore's life and his relationships were rarely dramatic, at least as Moore related them. As Berthoud points out, the sculptor ""edited"" his memories of his struggle for recognition; the present volume fails to fill in many of his deletions or to correct his emendations. It is only when Berthoud begins to detail Moore's growing obsession with recognition as ""the greatest sculptor since Rodin"" and with being ""the world's wealthiest sculptor"" that the biography takes on a modicum of interest. The anecdotes dealing with the Yorkshire coal-miner's son's often outrageous braggadocio and his willingness to accept commissions for projects of dubious merit are eye-opening, as are revelations about the major role that Moore's assistants played in the sculpting of the later, highly praised works. Berthoud knows his subject intimately and has organized his research with admirable clarity. For anyone interested in following the career of a sculptor whose public monuments, in America at least, have become nearly as ubiquitous as Golden Arches, this biography provides all the data on the corpus of his work. Those seeking insights into the artistic temperament and the workings of inspiration, however, will find Berthoud's work nearly as disappointing as its predecessors.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1987
ISBN: 1900357224
Publisher: Dutton