T02269 THREE POINTS 1939–40
Bronze, 5 1/2 × 7 1/2 × 3 3/4 (14 × 19 × 9.5)
Presented by the artist 1978
Exh: Henry Moore Sculpture and Drawings, British Council, Zappeion Gallery, Athens, March 1951, and tour to Sweden, 1952 (15); Henry Moore, British Council, Museum Boymans, Rotterdam, May–July 1953 (16); Henry Moore, British Council, Madrid, April 1959 (8); Henry Moore Sculpture and Drawings, New Metropole Arts Centre, Folkestone, April–May 1966, and City Art Gallery, Plymouth, June–July 1966 (17); Henry Moore, Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterlo, May–July 1968, Museum Boymans-Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, September–November 1968, and Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt, Spring 1969 (51, repr.); Henry Moore, National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, August–October 1969 (21, repr.); Henry Moore - Fem Decennier Skulptur, teckning, grafik 1923–1975, Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo, June–July 1975 and tour to Stockholm and Ålborg (23); Henry Moore, Expo Zürich, Züricher Forum, Zurich, June–August 1976 (22, repr.); Henry Moore Sculptures et Dessins, Orangerie des Tuileries, Paris, May–August 1977 (41, repr.); Henry Moore 80th Birthday Exhibition, Bradford Art Galleries and Museums, April–June 1978 (56, repr.); The Henry Moore Gift, Tate Gallery, June–August 1978, repr. p.22
Lit: Herbert Read, Henry Moore, 1965, p.125 (original lead version repr. pl. 108); David Sylvester, catalogue of Henry Moore, Tate Gallery, 1968, pp.36–7 (repr. pl.37 and on cover); Robert Melville, Henry Moore Sculpture and Drawings 1921–1969, 1970, pp.20–21 (repr. pl.210); Alan G. Wilkinson, catalogue of The Drawings of Henry Moore, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, November–December 1977, and tour to Japan and at Tate Gallery, June–August 1978, p.99, no.125; Alan G. Wilkinson, The Moore Collection in the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, 1979, p.204 (another cast repr. fig.167)
Repr: London Bulletin, 18–20, June 1940, p.21 (original lead version); Herbert Read (intro.), Henry Moore Sculpture and Drawings, 1944, pl.103b (lead), and David Sylvester, ed., ibid., 4th, completely revised edition, 1957, no.211; Will Grohmann, The Art of Henry Moore, 1960, pl.75, as ‘Three Peaks’; Elda Fezzi, Henry Moore, Florence, 1971, pl.9 in colour
The work is no.211 in the Lund Humphries catalogue of Moore's sculptures. It exists in three different materials: lead, cast iron and bronze. The lead version is the earliest and was first shown at the Leicester Galleries in February 1940 in an exhibition which Moore shared with Anthony Gross and Ivon Hitchens. The Tate's bronze is from the original edition of two, the other being in the collection of the Kunsternes Hus, Oslo. A further edition of eight bronzes was cast from the lead in 1958 and published by Marlborough Fine Art.
The idea for the sculpture came from a sheet of drawings of ‘Pointed Forms’ 1939 (Albertina, Vienna, repr. Read, op. cit., pl.107). Wilkinson dates Moore's interest in pointed forms to ‘a sketch of c.1938...inscribed “Do drawings of two forms practically touching”’ (op. cit., 1979, fig.165). Considering David Sylvester's suggestion, made in the Tate exhibition catalogue of 1968, that the inspiration for ‘Three Points’ came from the pinching of Gabrielle d'Estrées’ nipple in the famous School of Fontainebleau double portrait, Wilkinson comments: ‘he [Moore] said that it was a mistake to try to track down a single source for “Three Points”’ (ibid.). In conversation with the compiler (12 December 1980), the artist said that it was important that the points in the sculpture should not touch (in some bronzes, due to a fault in the casting, the points actually meet) because he wanted the work to convey a sense of anticipation and anxiety. He used the analogy of the sparking plug to illustrate this idea. When asked if the spiky forms in T02269, with their aggressive and perhaps also phallic connotations, were derived from surrealist imagery - for example, the surrealist sculptures of Giacometti - Moore said that this was certainly one possible influence as Surrealism was very much in the air when he made the work.
Sharp, pointed forms occasionally appear in other sculptures by Moore (see, for example, T02273 below) but it was not until the late 1960s, in such works as ‘Spindle Piece’ (Lund Humphries 592), ‘Oval with Points’ (L.H. 596) and ‘Pointed Torso’ (L.H. 601), that the artist returned to the theme in full and on a much larger scale. For a discussion of the pointing and touching motives in Moore's late work, see Alan Bowness, Introduction to Henry Moore Sculpture 1964–73 (L.H. Vol.4), 1977, p.11.
The Tate Gallery 1978-80: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1981