Catalogue entry

T02293 LOCKING PIECE 1963–4

Inscribed ‘Moore’ and stamped with foundry mark ‘H. NOACK BERLIN’
Bronze, height 115 1/2 (293.4)
Presented by the artist 1978
Exh: The Henry Moore Gift, Tate Gallery, June–August 1978, repr.p.52
Lit: Herbert Read, Henry Moore, 1965, p.246 (repr. pl.236); Philip James (ed.), Henry Moore on Sculpture, 1966, pp.25, 144; John Hedgecoe and Henry Moore, Henry Moore, 1968, pp.455–6 (repr. pp.454–5); David Sylvester, catalogue of Henry Moore, Tate Gallery, 1968, p.141 (original plaster repr. pl.131 and details pl.127, 134); Paul Waldo Schwartz, The Hand and Eye of the Sculptor, 1969, pp.211–12 (original plaster repr. pp.213–18); Alan Bowness, Introduction to Henry Moore Sculpture 1964–73, 1977, pp.8–11, 17; Alan G. Wilkinson, The Moore Collection in the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, 1979, p.183
Repr: Alan Bowness (ed.), Henry Moore Sculpture and Drawings 1955–64, 1965, pl.173, 174 and 175, 176 (details)

This is no.515 in the Lund Humphries catalogue of Moore's sculpture; there are three bronze casts. The Tate's bronze was previously on loan to Westminster City Council who placed it on its present site, outside Riverwalk House on the Embankment, in 1968.

Moore has explained how the idea for ‘Locking Piece’ ‘came about from two pebbles which I was playing with and which seemed to fit each other and lock together, and this gave me the idea of making a two-piece sculpture-not that the forms weren't separate, but that they knitted together. I did several plaster maquettes, and eventually one nearest to what the shape of this big one is now, pleased me the most and then I began making the big one.’ (James, op. cit., p.144.) The ‘big one’ referred to here is the ‘Working Model for Locking Piece’ 1962 (L.H. 514), the original plaster of which is in the Moore Collection, Art Gallery of Ontario. However, Moore later gave a slightly different account of the genesis of the sculpture when he said that ‘the germ of the idea originated from a sawn fragment of bone with a socket and joint which was found in the garden’. (Hedgecoe, op. cit., p.456). He also said that the work was ‘the largest and perhaps the most successful of my “fitting-together” sculptures. In fact the two pieces interlock in such a way that they can only be separated if the top piece is lifted and turned at the same time’ (ibid., p.455). Alan Bowness has identified Moore's preoccupation with locking forms as being ‘one general characteristic of the late style.’ (op. cit., 1977, p.9).

Bowness calls ‘Locking Piece’ ‘the first large compact sculpture’, a product of the years 1959 to 1962 in Moore's works which were ‘rich in new sculptural thinking.’ (ibid., p.8). Other sculptures with compact forms in the Tate's collection are T02296, T02298 and T02299 below, all three working models for monumental pieces. Bowness has written that these large-scale works ‘display a freedom of scale that Moore has only recently achieved, now that he no longer attempts to enlarge beyond life-size the human figure’. (ibid.)

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1978-80: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1981