Conceived in 1966, Two Piece Sculpture No. 7: Pipe displays Moore's preoccupation with creating multiple and varied viewpoints from separate sculptural units that are brought together into relationships of tension and interdependence. Developing an idea which had first appeared in his work in the 1930s, Moore began to divide his reclining figures into two and, later, three and four pieces in 1959.
Moore has commented that Two Piece Sculpture No. 7: Pipe constituted "an attempt to make a sculpture which is varied in all its views and forms." He continued: "One piece is very different from the other, and by combining the two I obtain many permutations and combinations. By adding two pieces together the differences are not simply doubled. As in mathematics, they are geometrically multiplied, producing an infinite variety of viewpoints'"(H. Moore and J. Hedgecoe, Henry Moore, New York, 1968, p. 501).
Steven A. Nash has noted the influence of the Surrealists on Moore's multi-piece works, commenting: "The idea of spreading a sculptural composition across a flat base, so antithetical to the ancient tradition of the vertical statue, was very much in the air at the time. Moore would have seen examples in work by Arp, and certainly was aware of Giacometti's repeated and highly inventive use of the device" (in Henry Moore: Sculpting the 20th Century, exh. cat., Dallas Museum of Art, 2001, pp. 46-47). The act of cutting the figure into sections might initially appear as a perversely wanton act of surrealist violence. However, in contrast to the transgressive psycho-sexual attitudes that normally informed surrealist imagery, especially as seen in Giacometti's sculptures of this period, Moore's composite figures "are serene, psychologically neutral studies in formal balance and rhythmic variation" (ibid., p. 47).
The highly polished finish of the present work is particularly notable, calling to mind the sculptures of Constantin Brancusi who Moore had admired for his ability to rid sculpture of all "surface excrescences" (H. Moore, quoted in A. Wilkinson, ed., Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, Aldershot, 2002, p. 145). Two Piece Sculpture No. 7: Pipe was cast in bronze in a numbered edition of nine plus one artist's proof. Other bronze casts are in the collections of the Tate Gallery, London and The Whitworth Gallery at the University of Manchester. The original plaster from which the bronzes were cast is in the Henry Moore Sculpture Centre at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto.