Henry Moore OM, CH

Reclining Figure: Bunched

1961, cast 1961–2

Medium
Bronze on stone base
Dimensions
Object: 130 x 166 x 93 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by Gustav and Elly Kahnweiler 1974, accessioned 1994
Reference
T06826

Summary

Reclining Figure: Bunched, 1961, is the model for a marble sculpture of the same title (1960/9, private collection). It was cast in an edition of nine (of which this is number nine) plus an artist’s proof. A soft-edged, abstract rendition of a reclining figure, its undulating, organic shape lent itself to be recreated in travertine, a creamy, richly-veined marble. Moore was fascinated by natural forms and often incorporated shapes derived from his observation of objects such as pebbles, bones and driftwood into his work.

The reclining figure was a recurring theme in Moore’s work. The artist liked its compositional and spatial freedom, as well as its ability to express repose. Moreover, he stated: ‘A reclining figure can recline on any surface. It is free and stable at the same time. It fits in with my belief that sculpture should be permanent, should last for eternity.’ (Quoted in Henry Moore, 1987, p.6.)

At the beginning of his career Moore worked mostly in stone. Subscribing to the modernist ethos of ‘truth to material’, his early pieces were carved directly, and not made from models by assistants. However, in the mid-1930s he began to vary his approach, often making clay maquettes that he would use to create the final work. Moore eventually moved on to casting his work in bronze as well as carving it in stone or wood. Liberated from the constraints of carving, the artist almost entirely eliminated drawing from his working process by the mid-1950s and explored his ideas through small maquettes. These had an intrinsic quality of immediacy or spontaneity and allowed him to imagine the finished product in the round. In 1968 he said, ‘with the kind of sculpture I do now, I need to know it from on top and from underneath as well as from all sides. And so I prefer to work out my ideas in the form of small maquettes which I can hold in my hand and look at from every point of view.’ (Quoted in Wilkinson, 2002, p.239.) In order to translate the scale of the work more effectively from portable to over life-size, he often made larger working models as an intermediate stage between the maquette and the finished sculpture.

Moore’s maquettes were typically cast in bronze in editions of up to ten. The sculptor strove for monumentality in his work and tried to imbue the same quality in the small maquettes. He also took a great deal of care with their finish. Some were more polished than others, some darker, some greener. Moore did all the patination himself, treating the bronze with different acids to achieve different effects then working on it by hand, rubbing and wearing it down.

Further reading:
Henry Moore: Maquettes and Working Models, exhibition catalogue, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City 1987
Alan Wilkinson (ed.), Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, Aldershot 2002
Giorgia Bottinelli, ‘Henry Moore’, in Jennifer Mundy (ed.), Cubism and its Legacy: The Gift of Gustav and Elly Kahnweiler, exhibition catalogue, Tate Modern, London 2004, pp.82-7, reproduced p.85 in colour

Giorgia Bottinelli
March 2004

Display caption

By the mid-1950s Moore had almost entirely eliminated drawing from his creative process and explored his ideas through small maquettes. These had an intrinsic quality of immediacy or spontaneity and allowed him to imagine the finished product in the round. In order to translate the scale of the work more effectively, he often made larger working models as an intermediate stage between the maquette and the finished sculpture. Moore’s maquettes were typically cast in bronze in editions of up to ten. The sculptor strove for monumentality in his work and tried to imbue the same quality in the small maquettes. He also took a great deal of care with their finish. Some were more polished than others, some darker, some greener. Moore did all the patination himself, treating the bronze with different acids to achieve different effects then working on it by hand, rubbing and wearing it down.

Gallery label, September 2004

Catalogue entry

Entry

Reclining Figure: Bunched is a small bronze sculpture of a distorted human figure reclining on a Hoptonwood limestone base. It was made in 1961 and served as the preliminary model for a larger sculpture originally carved in Travertine marble and later cast in bronze.
Henry Moore 'Reclining Figure: Bunched' 1961, cast 1961–2
Fig.1
Henry Moore
Reclining Figure: Bunched 1961, cast 1961–2
Tate T06826
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
The human form of this figure has been abbreviated to such an extent that certain features appear to melt into each other. Nonetheless, the overall shape of the bronze appears to present a figure lying on its side, identified by the position of two bent legs, which are the most recognisable human features. At the other end of the sculpture the various bulbous and projecting forms are suggestive of arms, shoulders, breasts and presumably a head (fig.1). The subtitle of this work, ‘bunched’, is a vivid description of how Moore has modelled the forms of this figure, as though the limbs are conjoined together. For example, the appendage that curves over the body at the top of the sculpture to create a hole might represent a raised right arm supporting a small misshapen head.
Henry Moore
Fig.2
Henry Moore
Reclining Figure: Bunched 1961, cast 1961–2 (rear view)
Tate T06826
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
The torso is made up of depressions and protrusions, and appears to be twisted so that the arms and head face backwards while the knees face forwards (fig.2). The legs and feet are fused together and although the knees are parted, only a small crevice separates them. The feet hover above the base and have flat soles on which Moore has inscribed his signature and the edition number.

Making Reclining Figure: Bunched

By the time Moore created Reclining Figure: Bunched in 1961 he rarely made preparatory drawings for his sculptures. Instead he preferred to test his designs in three dimensions by making small maquettes out of clay, wax or other malleable materials. However, a drawing by Moore dated 1960 depicts a reclining figure that, with its pierced or split head, recessed stomach and voluminous bent knees, closely resembles Reclining Figure: Bunched (fig.3). The drawing’s high level of finish suggests that it might be a mis-dated study of the finished sculpture, however it is also possible that Moore, having made numerous drawings for reclining figures throughout the 1950s, had a already conceived the design of the sculpture by 1960.

Moore and the reclining figure

The Kahnweiler Gift

Alice Correia
April 2013

Notes

1
Henry Moore cited in Donald Hall, ‘Henry Moore: An Interview by Donald Hall’, Horizon, November 1960, reprinted in Alan Wilkinson (ed.), Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, Aldershot 2002, p.233.
2
Henry Moore cited in J.D. Morse, ‘Henry Moore Comes to America’, Magazine of Art, vol.40, no.3, March 1947, pp.97–101, reprinted in Philip James (ed.), Henry Moore on Sculpture, London 1966, p.264.
3
Henry Moore cited in John Russell, Henry Moore, 1968, revised edn, London 1973, p.48.
4
Henry Moore cited in Arnold Haskell, ‘On Carving’, New English Weekly, 5 May 1932, pp.65–6, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.190.
5
David Sylvester, Henry Moore, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1968, p.7.
6
Ibid., p.7.
7
For a full account of the Kahnweiler Gift see Jennifer Mundy (ed.), Cubism and its Legacy: The Gift of Gustav and Elly Kahnweiler, exhibition catalogue, Tate Modern, London 2004.
8
Henry Moore sales log book, Henry Moore Foundation Archive.

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