Former Laureates

Henry Moore

Henry Moore


Henry Spencer Moore (1898-1986) studied at the Royal College of Art in London and subsequently taught there from 1925 to 1939. During his travels in Europe, he visited the prehistoric caves in France and Spain and was deeply impressed by them. He greatly admired the work of the pre- and early Renaissance painters Giotto and Masaccio. His work is also much influenced by the sculpture of Egypt, Greece and Africa and, above all, by pre-Columbian art. At an early age, he was also drawn to the work of Picasso and Brancusi. Henry Moore applied the characteristic British feeling for landscape and his respect for the nature of materials to a transformation of the human figure, which he himself called a humanistic, organic element of fundamental importance. His work succeeds in fusing tradition and original creation into a unity, which produced archetypes for 20th century sculpture. Moore has dealt with fundamental sculptural problems such as concave and convex forms, space and mass, the relation between these elements and the relation between sculpture and architecture. As the first British sculptor of international eminence, he made an important contribution to the revival of European sculpture. The opening of an exhibition at the Kröller-Müller museum in the Netherlands on the occasion of the artist’s 70th birthday took place in conjunction with the award ceremony.

Henry Moore chose the SPACE project, an enterprise of the Arts Services Grants Ltd., as the recipient of the Erasmus Prize money. SPACE was concerned with providing accommodation for artists by converting empty buildings – schools, factories or warehouses – so that they could be let as studios. The organisation also gave information to groups of artists who wished to set up studios in this way. The example of the SPACE project has been followed all over Britain and in New York.


The Erasmus Prize 1968 has been awarded to Henry Moore

  • because, receptive to the process of sculptural renewal which, through cubism and futurism, originated in continental Europe, he has, magnificently and convincingly, participated in the second phase of this process, thus enabling his own country - which at first failed to play a role of any significance - to take a prominent place in the world of sculpture;
  • because, in so doing, he has brought the innate English sense of scenery and the nature of materials to bear upon the recreation of the human figure - referred to by himself as a ‘humanist organic element of fundamental importance in sculpture -, thereby expressing both the background of ancient world cultures and the spirit of present-day life;
  • because, in the conflict between the abstract and the figurative, he has, by creating 20th century archetypes defined by new forms and the nature of the material, contributed considerably to the rebirth of European sculpture.

Henry Moore's sculptures at the Kröller-Müller Museum

In 1968 the British sculptor Henry Moore was awarded the Erasmus Prize.