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Henry Moore, O.M., C.H. (1898-1986)
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Henry Moore, O.M., C.H. (1898-1986)

Two Piece Reclining Figure, No. 4

Henry Moore, O.M., C.H. (1898-1986)
Two Piece Reclining Figure, No. 4
signed and numbered 'Moore/6/8' and stamped with the foundry mark 'Morris Singer' (on the base)
bronze with a green patina
43 in. (109.2 cm.) long
Conceived and cast in 1961.
Acquired direct from the artist, 1962-63.
A. Bowness, (Ed.), Henry Moore Complete Sculpture Volume 3, 1965, pls. 135-140, no. 479 (another cast illustrated)
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Lot Essay

The present work demonstrates key themes in Moore's work, embracing both figuration and abstraction. Moore drew inspiration from many different sources, including tribal art and Surrealism, and although he did embrace pure abstraction, his work was primarily concerned with depicting the human form. Two Piece Reclining Figure, No. 4, demonstrates Moore's concern at the beginning of the 1960s of dividing the elements of a reclining female figure.

Moore commented on the genesis of the Two Piece Reclining Figure series, 'I did the first one in two pieces almost without intending to. But after I had done it, then the second one became a conscious idea. I realised 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 it to be a naturalistic figure; therefore you can justifiably make it look like a landscape or a rock. If it's a single figure, you can guess what it's going to be like. If it's in two pieces, there's a bigger surprise, you have more unexpected views; therefore the special advantage over painting - of having the possibility of many different views - is more fully explored. The front view doesn't enable you to foresee the back view. As you move round it, the two parts overlap or they open up and there's space between.

Sculpture is like a journey. You have a different view as you return. The three-dimensional view is full of surprises in a way that a two-dimensional world could never be' (quoted in C. Lake, 'Henry Moore's World', Atlantic Monthly, Boston, January 1962).

In this statement Moore expresses the importance of the relation of sculpture to its surrounding landscape and how the form itself can mirror natural elements. Through dividing the form and piercing the sculpture Moore emphasised this relationship, and strengthened the importance of the environment, which is viewed directly within the sculpture. Moore was involved with the siting of Two Piece Reclining Figure, No. 4, for Sir Colin Anderson and designed the present plinth (now without its 'legs') for its orginal setting at Admiral's House, Hampstead, where Sir Colin lived until 1976.

Anita Feldman Bennet comments, 'Despite Moore's fragmentation and engulfment of the figure within the landscape, when his sculptures are sited in the open air they appear at ease in their surroundings; it is a contradiction that lends a subtle complexity to Moore's later work. After World War II Moore was able to synthesize his ideas and create a truly monumental sculpture, one that combined elements of non-Western art and modernism with an affinity for nature. His eclectic use of non-Western forms, coupled with an inventive manipulation of found objects, isolated him from the mainstream of the avant-garde. That Moore provided a sense of continuity with a world tradition of sculpture and a unity between figure and environment at a time when this was not highly regarded is now perceived as his strength. Moore offered an organic sculpture, attemping to inspire a sense of awe and mystery about the natural world' (see 'A Sculptor's Collection', D. Kosinski, Henry Moore: Sculpting the 20th Century, New Haven and London, 2001, pp. 60-1).

Of the eight casts made of Two Piece Reclining Figure, No. 4, there are three in public collections: Wakefield, City Art Gallery; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; and Winnipeg, Art Gallery.

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