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Western art

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Helmet head no. 2

cast 1955


Henry Spencer Moore


30 Jul 1898 - 31 Aug 1986


Echoing the surrealism that was an early influence on the sculptor, this compact bronze merges mechanistic form with animistic feeling. Its owl-like outline and interrogative attitude make a direct demand on the viewer. Yet the secrecy of its internal voids and the implacability of its outward structures resist all dialogue. The enigmatic objects of Giacometti come to mind, redefined as they are by Moore's own brand of sculptural rationalism. Regardless of subject matter, and even at his most primitivistic, the English sculptor invested his work with a sense of composure and balance. 'Helmet head no. 2' rises with great solidity from a flange-like neck and throat. The shape suggests a Nazi helmet, unsurprising given Moore's deeply humanistic response to the sufferings occasioned by the Second World War. By contrast, his far more easeful bronze, 'Reclining figure: angles I' (1980) rests monumentally on its base outside the Gallery.

Art Gallery Handbook, 1999.



cast 1955

Media category


Materials used



cast g [bronze edition of 9+1]


34.0 x 24.7 x 24.0 cm; 4.2 x 26.0 x 31.7 cm base

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Purchased 1955


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Henry Spencer Moore

Works in the collection


Shown in 5 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 17 publications


Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales picturebook, Sydney, 1972, 58 (colour illus.).

Sir Alan Bowness (Editor), Henry Moore: sculpture 1921-1986, London, 1955-1988, vol 2, 281 (illus.).

René Free, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'European', pg. 36-56, Sydney, 1988, 55.

Robert Haines, Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, 'Rodin and modern British sculpture', pg. 151-54, Sydney, Jul 1963, 152, 153 (illus.).

John Hedgecoe and Henry Spencer Moore, Henry Spencer Moore, London, 1968.

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Western collection: paintings and sculpture', pg. 17-77, Sydney, 1999, 64 (colour illus.).

Walter Kommer (Editor), The Australian, Sydney, 28 Dec 1968, (illus.).

Robert Melville, Henry Moore, sculpture and drawings 1921-1969, London, 1970. cat. no 407

National Gallery of South Australia, The Adelaide Festival of Arts 1960: Souvenir catalogue of special exhibitions at the National Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 1960. cat. no 4

Erich Neumann, The archetypal world of Henry Moore, London, 1959, (illus.).

Sir Herbert Read, Henry Moore, volume two: sculpture and drawings since 1948, London, 1955, xiv (illus.). plate no 11

Sir John Rothenstein, British art since 1900, London, 1962, (illus.).

The British Council, Recent British sculpture, London, 1961. cat. no 39

The Leicester Galleries, Catalogue of an exhibition of recent sculpture and early life drawings by Henry Moore, London, 1955, (illus.).

Bick Waterlow, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'A wish fulfilled', pg. 14, Sydney, 10 Apr 1992, 14.

Nick Waterlow, Henry Moore, Sydney, 1992, 113 (illus.). plate no 90

Sarah Wilson, War and Art, 'In the heat of the cold war, 1945-77', pg. 128-65, London, 2017, 144 (colour illus.). illus. no 169