Catalogue entry

T00395 TWO-PIECE RECLINING FIGURE NO. 2 1960

Inscr. ‘Moore 3/7’ and ‘Guss.e. Noack Berlin’ on larger form.
Bronze (two pieces), 49 1/2×101 1/2×42 3/4 (126×258×108·5).
Purchased from the artist (Grant-in-Aid) 1960.
Exh: Another cast: Whitechapel Art Gallery, December 1960–January 1961 (70, repr.).
Lit: Michel Strauss, ‘Current and Forthcoming Exhibitions: London’ in Burlington Magazine, CIII, 1961, p.32, repr. p.37.
Repr: Another cast: Les Beaux-Arts, Nos.916–17, 23 and 30 December 1960, p.6. This cast: Sir John Rothenstein, British Art since 1900, 1962, pl.115; John Rothenstein, The Tate Gallery, 1962, p.272.

The Two-Piece Reclining Figures are a development of the theme of the reclining figure which has occupied the artist throughout his career, e.g. Tate Gallery N05387, T00387 and T00390. ‘Two-Piece Reclining Figure No.1’ was executed in 1959 and first exhibited in the British Council's German and Swiss tour, 1960 (55, repr.; also repr. exh. cat., Whitechapel, 1960–1, No.69), while ‘Two-Piece Reclining Figure No.2’ was executed in the following year; it exists in an edition of seven plus one artist's copy.

The artist has written of the two works: 'In 1933 and 1934 I made many sculptures composed of two, three and sometimes four pieces [repr. Read and Sylvester, I, 1957, pp.85–92, 96 and 98]. They were done partly to concentrate on the distances between forms, but also to consider the shape of the spaces between forms.

'In doing these Reclining Figure sculptures (No.1 in 1959 and No.2 in 1960) it came naturally and without any conscious decision that I made them in two separate pieces, the head-and-body end, and the leg-end. In both sculptures I realized that I was simplifying the essential elements of my reclining figure theme. In many of my reclining figures the head-and-neck part of the sculpture, sometimes the torso part too, is upright, giving contrast to the horizontal direction of the whole sculpture. Also in my reclining figures I have often made a sort of looming leg - the top leg in the sculpture projecting over the lower leg, which gives a sense of thrust and power, as a large branch of a tree might move outwards from the main trunk, or as a seaside cliff might overhang from below, if you are on the beach.

'A great asset of sculpture in the round (as against relief sculpture or painting) is its possibility of an infinite number of different views, giving, in changing lights, a never ending interest and surprise. The two separated forms produce a greater variety of views from all aspects, for as you walk round the sculpture one form gets in front of the other, in ways that cannot be anticipated, resulting in many unexpected, unforeseen views. In that sense I think these sculptures are more fully in the round than any previous work of mine. Being in two pieces the work separates itself from seeming to be only a representation of a reclining figure.

‘Both these sculptures are a mixture, an amalgamation of the human body with rock-forms and with landscape, and so like a metaphor in poetry giving to each element a new aspect, and perhaps a new meaning.’ (Statement sent with letter of 13 April 1961.)

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, II