HENRY MOORE (1898-1986)
HENRY MOORE (1898-1986)
HENRY MOORE (1898-1986)
2 More
HENRY MOORE (1898-1986)
5 More
HENRY MOORE (1898-1986)

Working Model for Two Piece Reclining Figure: Points

HENRY MOORE (1898-1986)
Working Model for Two Piece Reclining Figure: Points
signed and numbered 'Moore 7⁄10' (on top of the base); stamped with foundry mark 'H. NOACK BERLIN' (on the edge of the base)
bronze with golden brown patina
Length: 47 5⁄8 in. (121 cm.)
Conceived in 1969-70 and cast by H. Noack, Berlin in 1969-72 in an edition of ten plus one artist's cast
Acquired directly from the artist in the early 1970s, and thence by descent to the present owner.
Henry Moore, Carvings and Bronzes 1961-1970, exh cat., M. Knoedler & Co., Inc. & Marlborough Galleries, New York, 1970, no. 39, p. 82 (another cast illustrated pp. 82, 83 & on the back cover).
Small Bronzes and Drawings by Henry Moore, exh cat., Lefevre Gallery, London, 1972, no. 33, pp. 7 & 72 (another cast illustrated p. 73).
A. Bowness ed., Henry Moore, vol. 4, Complete Sculpture 1964-73, London, 1977, no. 605, p. 56 (another cast illustrated pp. 57 &134-135).
A. Wilkinson, Henry Moore Remembered: The Collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, Toronto, 1987, no. 186, p. 237 (plaster version illustrated p. 237).
P. McCaughey, Henry Moore and the Heroic: A Centenary Tribute, exh cat., Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1999, no. 17 (another cast illustrated).

Brought to you by

Claudia Schürch
Claudia Schürch Senior Specialist, Head of Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Working Model for Two Piece Reclining Figure: Points is a powerful illustration of Henry Moore’s longstanding preoccupation with the abstract possibilities of the split reclining figure. Dramatically cutting the human form into two separate pieces, Moore achieves a perfect equilibrium between solidity and weightlessness, carefully calculating the space between the sections to generate a tension that simultaneously divides and ties the two groupings together. ‘This space is terribly important,’ the artist later explained, ‘and is as much a form as the actual solid, and should be looked upon as a piece of form or a shape just as much as the actual material’ (quoted in D. Mitchinson, Henry Moore Sculpture, London, 1981, p. 266). Here, the arrangement of the individual elements conveys the impression of a torso and head on one side of the configuration, and a pair of folded legs on the other, while the charged space between the two generates a dynamic viewing experience, as the character of the sculpture shifts and changes according to the angle from which it is considered.

Although Moore created multi-piece compositions in modest table-top dimensions during the 1930s, the practice became more prevalent in his oeuvre following the creation of Two-Piece Reclining Figure No. 1 in 1959. Writing of this work, Moore explained the ways in which it represented an expansion of his vision: ‘I don't think it was a conscious or intentional thing for me to break up the figures in this way ... I did the first one in pieces almost without intending to. But after I had done it, then the second one became a conscious idea. I realized what an advantage a separated two-piece composition could have in relating figures to landscape. Knees and breasts are mountains. Once these two parts become separated, you don’t expect a naturalistic figure; therefore you can justifiably make it like a landscape or rock’ (quoted in A. Wilkinson, ed., Henry Moore Writings and Conversations, Berkeley, 2002, pp. 287-288). The success of this experiment soon suggested further possibilities – Moore created numerous two-piece figures, and during the 1960s and 70s, expanded upon this theme to develop three-piece and four-piece works as well.

In Two Piece Reclining Figure: Points, Moore carries the theme of division to new expressive heights, elongating two segments so that they appear to reach towards one another across the void, stopping just short of actually touching, leaving the space between filled by an almost palpable charge of electricity. It appears to have been this energy, the atmosphere of suspense as we anticipate the meeting of the two points, that Moore aimed to capture in this work, as he searched for novel ways in which to expand his sculptural vision. The artist had first explored the motif of pointed elements almost touching in a sketch from 1938, which was followed by a series of drawings in which he developed and expanded on the idea, proposing a myriad of subtle variations of mass and spacing as he sought to reach the perfect form. These explorations resulted almost immediately in Moore’s enigmatic sculpture Three Points (1939-1940), but he would not return to the concept until the late 1960s, producing works such as Oval with Points (1968-69) and the present work.

While a variety of sources have been suggested as the inspiration for Moore’s artistic obsession with such pointed forms – from the structure of a spark plug to details from Picasso’s Guernica, Surrealist art to the carvings from New Guinea – the artist himself linked the motif back to two sixteenth-century artworks, the enigmatic painting Gabrielle d’Estrées et une de ses soeurs, by an anonymous member of the Fontainebleau School, and Michelangelo Bunarotti’s The Creation of Adam, in the frescoed ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Moore spoke openly of his admiration for Michelangelo’s work, stating in 1964 that even in his youth ‘I still knew that as an individual he was an absolute superman. Even before I became a student I’d taken a peculiar obsessive interest in him’ (quoted in D. Sylvester, “The Michelangelo Vision,” Sunday Times Magazine, 16 February 1964, in ibid, p. 157). Capturing the same sense of electric tension between two elements as they reach out towards one another, Working Model for Two Piece Reclining Figure: Points channels this highly-charged atmosphere, integrating the empty void into the composition in a novel way.

More from 20th / 21st Century: London Evening Sale

View All
View All