The present work derives from a series of monumental sculptures that Moore conceived in the mid-1960s, commencing with Three Way Piece No.1: Points in 1964-1965 (LH 533, fig. 1; Columbia University, New York; Fairmount Park, Philadelphia; private collection, Chicago), through Three Way Piece No.2: (The) Archer also 1964-1965 (LH535, fig. 2; City Plaza, Toronto; National Gallery, Berlin).
As with those earlier works of the same title, the 'three ways' of the title here refers to the three main elements of the work. Poised on three delicate tapering points, the bulging curvaceous forms that make up the mass of the sculpture suggest different interpretations from different angles, and indeed allow for three different positionings.
An abstract organic sculpture, the present work was inspired by the artist's abiding interest in stones and bones. Moore listed the broadest possible field of sources for these associations: 'The whole of nature - bones, pebbles, shells, clouds, tree trunks, flowers - all is grist to the mill of a sculpture' (quoted in A. Wilkinson (ed.), Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, Berkeley, 2002, pp. 221-222).
In contrast to Moore's figurative, pierced or interlocking forms, the present work belongs to a body of works that can be referred to as compact forms. Although dense in mass, there is an overall sense of internal movement and recoiled tension in the present work, emphasized by the inclusion of a pointing motive, which became a prominent feature of Moore's later works. As Moore himself stated 'A form becomes more active when it is a point - it has a direction.'
Perhaps aware of certain physical constraints of working in bronze, carving, and in particular carving in marble, held a renewed importance for Moore in the late period. This was not simply a practical consideration: in 1963 Moore took a holiday home in Forte dei Marmi in Tuscany, and it is surely not without coincidence that he subsequently chose to spend his summers in Italy, close to the famous quarries of Carrara. The qualities of the white marble allowed Moore to most fully express this sense of energy and tension that he so clearly sought.
In 1964, Moore wrote 'One of things I would like to think my sculpture has is a force, is a strength, is a life, a vitality from inside it, so that you have a sense that the form is pressing from inside, trying to burst or give off strength from inside itself, rather than having something which is just shaped from outside and is stopped. It is as though you have something trying to make itself come to a shape from inside itself' (quoted in A. Wilkinson (ed.), op. cit., pp. 198-9).