As an adherent to the theory of “Art for Art’s Sake,” Albert Moore approached painting as an expression of formal arrangements and color harmonies. He titled his works to suggest a mood or a tonal quality rather than to explain the visual content. The modello (full-scale study) for the painting Birds presents a statuesque woman, classically proportioned and attired in a pale gold chiton (gown) and a diaphanous white himation (rectangular wrap). But she is not a figure summoned out of ancient Mediterranean history. Instead, her gracefully posed and solidly constructed figure facilitates Moore’s fascination with the delicate interplay of light and color in the sheen of fabric draped on a three-dimension form. As for the “birds” of the title: In the finished painting, a small bird has landed at the figure’s feet. Its pale, golden feathers and white tail provides the tonal template for the painting.
From Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 89 (2015)