Discussing the forms from the late 1940s and early 1950s, Douglas Cooper (The Work of Graham Sutherland, London, 1961, p. 47) wrote, 'His fetish-like Forms are, in themselves, essentially unreal, but because they are painted in pseudo-sculptural terms and have human connotations they achieve a potent degree of pictorial reality. It seems strange that during those very years when Sutherland was continuously at work on portraits of vital human beings he should have felt that the only expressive means by which he could bridge the gap between man, the visible world which we all inhabit, and the artist's fetishes'.
Sutherland commented, 'People ask me about my 'Standing Forms'. What do they mean? They do not of course mean anything. The forms are based on the principles of organic growth, with which I have always been preoccupied. To me they are monuments and presences. But why use these forms instead of human figures? Because, at the moment, I find it necessary to catch the taste - the quality - the essence of the presence of the human figure: the mysterious immediacy of a figure standing in a room, or against a hedge in its shadow, its awareness, its regard, as if one had never seen it before - by a substitution. I find at the moment that I can make these qualities more real to myself in this way. It happens that I find these organic forms best for my purpose. They themselves are emotionally modified from their natural prototype. They give me a sense of the shock of surprise which direct evocation could not possibly do. Also, in these pictures I am trying to return to these forms after drastic rearrangement and emotional and formal modification to the field of purely visual response - to throw them back as it were, into the orginal cradle of impact. Seurat did this in his Baignade and the Study for Grande Jatte in the late Lewisohn's collection; today one must use other methods and other ways' (The Listener, 6 September 1951).