Henry Moore OM, CH

Three Points

1939–40, cast before 1949

Medium
Bronze on wooden base
Dimensions
Object: 140 x 190 x 95 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the artist 1978
Reference
T02269

Display caption

Moore kept abreast of developments in Paris and contributed to the International Surrealist Exhibition in London. Several of his works explore feelings of uncertainty and anxiety that relate to Surrealism. The use of space in Three Points creates a sense of anticipation. Moore commented: ‘This pointing has an emotional or physical action in it where things are just about to touch but don’t... like the points in the sparking plug of a car... the spark has to jump across the gap’.

Gallery label, July 2008

Catalogue entry

Entry

Henry Moore 'Three Points' 1939–40, cast before 1949
Fig.1
Henry Moore
Three Points 1939–40, cast before 1949
Tate T02269
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Three Points is a highly polished, single-piece bronze sculpture mounted on a wooden base (fig.1). It takes the form of a C-shaped wedge positioned on its curved back. The two arms of this shape curve up and arch over the thicker middle from which they grow, converging into two sharpened points that turn towards each other and come within a few millimetres of touching. Running up through the centre of this almost oval composition is another sharp spike, which rises up rigidly towards the two other points and almost meets them.
One arm of the sculpture rises higher than the opposite arm, so that the point extending from the taller side points downwards on a diagonal, while the tip from the shorter side points upwards at the same angle (fig.2). The central conical point also extends on a diagonal from the concave inner surface of the bronze.
Fig.2
Detail of patina on Three Points 1939–40, cast before 1949
Tate T02269
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Fig.3
Detail of pinpoint holes on Three Points 1939–40, cast before 1949
Tate T02269
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved

The outer surface of the sculpture is smooth and rounded, and does not show any tooling marks, although a number of pinpoint holes can be seen in the inner concave bronze surface (fig.3).

Casting Three Points

Versions of Three Points exist in three different materials: lead, iron and bronze. The first version of Three Points was cast in lead in 1939–40, and it is likely that that this version was one of a number of small metal sculptures cast by Moore and his assistant, Bernard Meadows, in a kiln constructed in the garden at Burcroft, Moore’s cottage in Kent. This practice of ‘backyard casting’ was relatively common among artists making small scale metal sculptures in the 1930s, and lead was a particularly favoured material due to its low melting point. On 9 December 1987 Tate curator Judith Collins interviewed Meadows with particular reference to his role in the creation of Moore’s lead sculptures. She recorded that Meadows ‘remembers casting lead pieces during the summer months of 1938 and 1939’, and that he ‘then stayed on alone at Burcroft in the winter holidays of 1938 and 1939 working on the lead casts’.1

Sources and interpretation

The Henry Moore Gift

Alice Correia
December 2013

Notes

1
[Judith Collins], ‘Henry Moore: Reclining Figure 1939’, in The Tate Gallery 1984–86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions Including Supplement to Catalogue of Acquisitions 1982–84, London 1988, p.539.
2
Ibid., p.539.
3
The other bronze cast from this edition is in the collection of the Kunsternes Hus, Oslo.
4
See David Sylvester (ed.), Henry Moore. Volume 1: Complete Sculpture 1921–48, London 1957, no.
5
211. Henry Moore cited in Donald Carroll, The Donald Carroll Interviews, London 1973, p.42, reprinted in Alan Wilkinson (ed.), Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, Aldershot 2002, p.235.
6
See Richard Calvocoressi, letter to Mrs Tinsley, 31 December 1980, Tate Artist Catalogue File, Henry Moore, A23946. In a letter to Calvocoressi held in the Tate Archive, Moore’s secretary, Mrs Tinsley, referred to the 1958 casts as ‘the Marlborough edition’. See Mrs Tinsley, letter to Richard Calvocoressi, 2 February 1981, Tate Artist Catalogue File, Henry Moore, A23946.
7
Richard Calvocoressi, ‘T.2269 Three Points’, in The Tate Gallery 1978–80: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1981, p.117.
8
Richard Calvocoressi, letter to Mrs Tinsley, 4 February 1981, Tate Conservation Records, Henry Moore T02269.
9
Henry Moore cited in Gemma Levine, With Henry Moore: The Artist at Work, London 1978, pp.28–9.
10
Herbert Read, Henry Moore: A Study of His Life and Work, London 1965, p.125.
11
David Sylvester, Henry Moore, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1968, p.36.
12
Robert Melville, Henry Moore: Sculpture and Drawings 1921–1969, London 1970, p.21.
13
Ibid., p.21.
14
Ibid., p.21.
15
Ibid., p.20.
16
Calvocoressi, ‘T.2269 Three Points’, 1981, p.117.
17
Alan G. Wilkinson, The Moore Collection in the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto 1979, p.204.
18
Henry Moore and David Sylvester, ‘The Michelangelo Vision’, Sunday Times Magazine, 16 February 1964, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.157.
19
Ann Garrould (ed.), Henry Moore. Volume 2: Complete Drawings 1930–38, London 1998, p.207.
20
Sylvester 1968, p.36.
21
Ibid.
22
Wilkinson 1979, p.204.
23
Alan Wilkinson, ‘Henry Moore’ in William Rubin (ed.), Primitivism in Twentieth Century Art, exhibition catalogue, Museum of Modern Art, New York 1984, vol.2, p.607.
24
Sylvester 1968, p.36.
25
Ibid.
26
Henry Moore, ‘Interview with Elizabeth Blunt’, Kaleidoscope, radio programme, broadcast BBC Radio 4, 9 April 1973, transcript printed in Wilkinson 2002, p.167.
27
Christopher Green, ‘Henry Moore and Picasso’ in James Beechy and Chris Stephens (eds.), Picasso and Modern British Art, exhibition catalogue, Tate Britain, London 2012, p.149.
28
Ibid.
29
Kenneth Clark, Another Part of the Wood, New York 1974, p.256.
30
Read 1965, p.125.
31
Steven A. Nash, ‘Moore and Surrealism Reconsidered’, in Dorothy Kosinski (ed.), Henry Moore: Sculpting the 20th Century, exhibition catalogue, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas 2001, p.50.
32
Calvocoressi, ‘T.2269 Three Points’, 1981, p.117. See also Michel Remy, Surrealism in Britain, Aldershot 1999, p.180.
33
Eric Gibson, ‘Moore and Giacometti’, New Criterion, vol.26, no.4, December 2007, p.19.
34
Ibid., p.21.
35
Ibid., p.22.
36
Melville 1970, p.21.
37
Ibid., p.20.
38
See Anna Gruetzner Robins, ‘The Surrealist Object and Surrealist Sculpture’, in Sandy Nairne and Nicholas Serota (eds.), British Sculpture in the Twentieth Century, exhibition catalogue, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London 1981, p.120.
39
Wilkinson 1984, p.607.
40
Alan Wilkinson, ‘Moore: A Modernist’s “Primitivism”’ in Kosinski 2001, pp.38–9.
41
See ‘Note on the Henry Moore Gift’, 1978, Tate Public Records TG 4/6/10/4.
42
These figures are based on those listed in a memo in the exhibition’s records; see Tate Public Records TG 92/344/2.
43
Norman Reid, letter to Mary Danowski, 31 August 1978, Tate Public Records TG 4/6/10/4.

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