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Henry Moore and I posing in front of Moore's house in Forte dei Marmi, Italy - photo Irina Moore
English Nederlands back to encounters
"After my first meeting with Henry Moore and his wife Irina on Sunday morning august 23, 1970 on a terrace in Forte dei Marmi I saw him again at his house in 198 Via Civitali of the same town. This was on Friday evening August 20, 1971. Later that evening I made the following account of this meeting:
Irina Moore let me in. She said, Henry Moore is on the phone. It struck me that she didn't refer to him as 'my husband'. She invited me to sit in the living room while he was talking about some sale with his secretary in England. He commented "it's pouring in London". I remarked about a beautiful vase I had seen at Henraux in Querceta. (The firm Henraux owns the Altissimo, the mountain where Michelangelo obtained his marble. They deal in mainly marble all over the world.) "They gave this vase to Mary." said Irina. Mary is their daughter. Moore joins us after having finished his call. "I have an unexpected guest in back and ... let's see, how long will you be staying in Forte dei Marmi?" Next Sunday or Monday I would return I said. "Lets see how long it takes. My wife will keep you company and get you a drink." She remarked that this had been the warmest summer they ever had in Forte dei Marmi. I joined her in the kitchen and decided to have a soda. She added a slice of lemon. "How's your work coming along?" she asked. "I'm quite busy." "Good." She proposed to go to the living room and started about someone (I didn't catch who - maybe it was Mary) at the Edinburgh Festival. I asked her how long they'd been in Italy already. Three weeks. Feeling a little uneasy about the visitor in the back of the house, I asked whether I was keeping her from their guest. "No but come, let's go into the garden; we'll sit there. "How's your wife?" she asked. I told her that I was not married and that I wasn't seeing the person, who accompanied me the year before, anymore. "Well, maybe it's better to be a little older before you marry; you will have grown more independent then ........... and, maybe it's good to marry young and grow accustomed to each other; I don't know really." I told her that I didn't think it was necessary that one's (an artist's) partner should know a lot about art. She'd learn along the way. I surmised that an artist's wife would maybe be more likely to be neglected. A factory worker leaves his work at the end of a day comes home to his wife (How simple things seemed to me then). In the meantime we had sat down at a large round marble table in the garden. Henry Moore was conferring at the second table with his visitor, an Italian publisher. Irina, disagreeing with what I had just said: "No, an artist mostly works at home and a factory worker's wife spends all day alone at home doing things she doesn't like. then her husband comes home and ... You're from Holland aren't you? We've been there many times, Rotterdam, The Hague once, Arnhem." I asked about a derelict corrugated iron shed in the back of the garden. "It's the place where the painter friend of us" (Martini?) "used to work. We bought the house from him; all it was, was this part." She points to a section of the house. "We built the rest with all the accommodations. A friendly lady, further down, comes when it's a nice day in the winter and opens the windows to air the house."
The telephone rings. Irina and Henry Moore both got up; "I'll get it." He calls to her; but she was already inside. Barefooted, he re-joined his visitor. Somewhat later she returned, opening the door of the old part of the house, "fresh air inside;" she said and continued, "probably a wrong number." "Just hang up, hang up dear!" He seemed tense and corrected himself, "Yes, probably a wrong number." He and San Lazarini (I think that was the caller's name) got up out of their chairs and joined us. Henry Moore introduced him to me. He was a publisher. He reassured me that he was just waiting for a taxi and told me they were working on an extensive book on the work of Henry Moore.
After Henry Moore's returning from making the phone call for a taxi I told him that I had been to Henraux earlier that day. The year before Moore had recommended that I should contact Mr. Cidonio of Henraux to work in one of their sculptors' studios. He had told me I could work there when I want to and wrote down Cidonio's name for me. "That's good," said Henry Moore " I worked there for (twenty five?) years. You have to work in stone first yourself before you can have it done for you. Then it's alright." That morning I'd seen a large polystyrene sculpture in the back of the studio's at Henraux and wondered if Henry Moore knew about that. It could have been his work but I wasn't sure because I actually did not like it very much. So I told him I'd seen a large white model there - assembled from polystyrene blocks. Yes, "that's quite a story" he told me: in England he had made the model from blocks so that it could be easily taken apart and shipped. Henraux would assemble them and make the sculpture in white marble. But when he came to see the progress they were making, it seemed that there had been a grave misunderstanding. The people at Henraux had concluded that Henry Moore wanted the marble sculpture to be constructed from blocks, exactly like the model was assembled. It should have been made from one large block of white marble. Remembering his drawings for sculpture where he had drawn contour lines like the sculptures had been assembled from blocks; or the lines engraved in the molds of the Festival Reclining Figure which strengthened the forms, I thought that this was a way to accentuate the shapes of this Square Form with Cut. But in this case he made an agreement with Henraux that they would keep the sculpture and for instance sell it, and make another, correcting the mix-up; otherwise it would be a financial set back for the company. But years later I found this text by Henry Moore:
Square Form with Cut went from my studio at Much
Hadham to Forte dei Marmi, where I spend the summers. I made
the model in polystyrene, and I began the marble version at
the Henraux marble works in Querceta. I made it first in
polystyrene because you can’t find a piece of sound marble
that size. I decided to make it like a building. Nobody
expects to make a building in one piece, and in the same way
you can make sculptures in pieces. All the pieces had to be
numbered so that you could put them up – like number 1 and
1-A for the first layer and so on. We made the marble pieces
just like the model. You see, in a piece this size, it’s
like building a cathedral.
quote: Henry Moore - Intellectual Digest, August 1972, p.41
I suppose that there had been further developments, as time can help one to adjust his viewpoints.
I asked "Did you actually carve the pebbles you found on the seashore, like it says in the book?" In the book by John Hedgecoe and Henry Moore I had read about this and wanted to know more about what he thought about working in this material. "Where?" he asked. His wife answered "Yes, in Dorset." "O yes, there would be good forms from which to start, and I would carve it to improve it. But after three months they would get a kind of foam on them because of the salt inside." "Like on cellar walls?" I asked. "Yes, and slowly they would disintegrate. A few good ones which I had cast in bronze survived." The doorbell rang. The taxi had arrived and the publisher said good bye to me. The Moore's accompanied him to the taxi. It was 7:05 PM. I said I was sorry to interrupt their busy schedule. "No, It's alright; Mr. San Lazarini had to wait a week before coming, to get a hotel. "I had overheard that The Moore's, and San Lazarini were having dinner with Marino Marini at the Paris Inn the next evening. This was most interesting for me, as a beginning young sculptor. Marino Marini also worked in the area Forte dei Marmi, it was Pietrasanta I think.
I told them I had been to Volterra a few days ago. "It's nice there." said Henry Moore. "Were we there?" Irina asked. "No, I went there with Mary and a boy friend of her; the road around it with the beautiful view." I asked, "Did you see the large pebbles protruding from the walls where the road was recently cut through the hills?" "Yes, aren't they wonderful?" I continued, "It was there I went up the steps and came to a place where they were excavating and took some pictures. I was also at the museum and saw the sculpted Etruscan sarcophagus covers with the reclining couples. There were so many, they could have easily given me one." Henry Moore smiled and asked whether I had been to the Etruscan Museum at Florence. "You should go there." I told him that I had seen Etruscan long Giacometti-like sculptures. "Yes, that's from where he got the idea. He told me so himself." declared Henry Moore.
I told him that I've wanted to own one of his works but that didn't seem likely to happen soon. He told about the prices his works were fetching at auctions and that he felt obliged not to go below those. He did not want to disturb the market for his work. I asked him whether he would like to trade something with me sometime; "yes" he answered, "you must come to England and visit us."
The telephone rang. "It's friends with whom we are going to have dinner." It was 7:30 already. "Did you see the Carlo Carra exhibition in town?" He continued. I said I did and that it was so good to encounter after seeing all the artsy-craftsy stuff on the street art market. "People buy it though and like it," Irina said, "and that's good isn't it?" I still wonder how she meant that.
plaster of Paris
plaster of Paris
I had brought a little box from Holland with some small sculptures that I had made. So I asked whether I could show him some of my works. "Yes, it's alright." Henry Moore said, glancing at his watch. I shouldn't have waited that long to pop the question I thought, but it was now or maybe never. I hesitated, "Or do you have to go?". "No, no it's alright, show them." One by one he picked them up from the table, where I had put them and said That he liked them and that Discoid Form Juncture could be good in white Marble. I asked "But how would it hold with the pipe on which it stands?" "O yes, they (Henraux) are good at solving problems, and you could get it nearer to the ground." When I unwrapped Discoid Form 3 he said "O yes, that one would go very good also in marble. And the lead one (Beach Forms), "Yes, the space between here would be hard if you wanted it in one piece." He remembered my showing him sketches of Beach Forms the year before. He said "Yes, I did casting in lead too, but it marks (scratches) easily." I showed Reclining Form 3 and remarked that I tried my hand at some reclining forms also. He said "That's also very nice, they're all good for large ones." He tried different positions with the reclining form and put it on it's side asserting "I like this even better. They are all very centered." I told him that I like his work very much, but prefer to simplify forms and make them as elementary as I can. He said "Yes."
His wife returned from the telephone and we talked some more about working in different materials. He found that marble should have some veins, otherwise it would look white like plaster; "not too many though, otherwise it will become an objet d'art like the vase inside or like ash trays. "I asked them whether they saw two particular sculptures at the art market and explained their form and the obtrusive material. They did and agreed to that. "Too many veins."
In the meantime I had wrapped and put my sculptures back into the box and had gotten up from my chair. We went inside and Henry Moore pointed to the vase, I had noticed when I came, and said "We got that from Henraux.". It had a spheroid shape; and he twisted it making it spin. I stopped it as it approached the edge of the table. "Yes," said Irina "Mary would be very cross if it fell. Henry Moore turned it back to the center of the table. When we arrived outside, I asked to make a photograph of them, "OK shall we go here, no lets see, here it's alright." I repeated that I wanted both on the picture. "Not I" said Irina, and ended up taking a picture of Henry Moore and me at the doorstep. She handed the camera back to me and I made one more of Henry Moore alone. We said good bye and I went back to my hotel.