Catalogue entry

Henry Moore b. 1898
Not inscribed.
Rosa Aurora marble, 23½×22¼×9½ (59.5×56.5×24).
Presented by the artist in memory of Sir Herbert Read 1970.

The artist gave the information which follows by telephone (15 May 1970). There are two versions of ‘Upright Form (Knife-edge)’, and this was the only time he had made two versions of a carving. Both were done in 1966 at Forte di Marmi near Quercetta where the artist has a studio. As is his normal practice he had been wandering round the yard where stocks of marble are kept by the firm of Henraux, and looking over the stones he was attracted by a piece of Portuguese ‘Rosa Aurora’. He took it and carved the present version.

The formal idea can be summarised as a knife-edge separating an upward turning (a hand open to the sky) from a downward turning (a leg seeking the earth) movement. The whole form is contained, with the minimum of cutting, in the square shape of the original stone turned onto its corner, the knife-edge defining the diagonal.

As he was completing the piece, the artist realised that the translucency of the stone was softening the effect of the knife edge, so he decided to do it again exactly the same but in opaque white marble to see how it would affect the problem. The white version (repr. John Russell, Henry Moore, 1968, p. 225) was then exhibited and sold but the artist kept the rose one unexhibited. He decided to present it to the Tate in memory of Sir Herbert Read because he felt that Read would have understood his point about the form and the material and because at the time of their greatest friendship he had been a stone carver.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1968-70, London 1970