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Henry Moore was the first major artist to discover D’Arcy Thompson’s On Growth & Form, having read the book while a student in Leeds. He later discussed the book with the critic Herbert Read, who was responsible for introducing many of the abstract artists of the 1930s to D’Arcy’s work. The impact of On Growth & Form can immediately be seen in Moore’s work, starting with his series of Transformation Drawings of the early 30s, which show various organic forms apparently morphing from one shape to another. D’Arcy’s concept of every organism being “a diagram of forces”, constantly in transition, became central to Moore’s work, and can be particularly seen in his graphic work.
In 1949 Moore was invited to participate in the Schools Prints project initiated by Brenda and Derek Rawnsley, who had the idea of commissioning leading contemporary artists to create high-quality lithographic prints to be shown in schools as way of stimulating an interest in modern art. Herbert Read acted as advisor to the project, and the artists participating included Picasso, Matisse, Braque, John Nash, John Tunnard and Julian Trevelyan. Moore’s print used a pioneering technique – the artist drew directly onto a series of transparent plastic plates, an innovation known as Plastocowell, created by the Ipswich printer Cowells. The resulting lithograph was printed under his personal supervision. According to critic Mel Gooding, “This print was one ofMoore's earliest graphics and it remains one of his best.” It features various mathematical and organic forms, which bear an uncanny resemblance to some the teaching models used by D’Arcy still in our collection today. The fainter forms in the background seem to be morphing one into another like those in the Transformation Drawings. Moore would ultimately regard this as one of his finest prints, and apparently was always on the look out for copies of it later in his life. He continued to use the Plastocowell technique in his later work. Although printed in a large number for distribution to schools, the classroom use of this print meant that most of those that have survived are in poor condition, so we are delighted to have a mint condition version as part of the collection.