Catalogue entry

T02275 UPRIGHT MOTIVE NO.2 1955–6

Inscribed ‘Moore’ on side of base
Bronze, 132 × 30 1/4 × 38 1/4 including base (335.2 × 76.8 × 97.2)
Presented by the artist 1978
Exh: Henry Moore: an exhibition of sculpture from 1950–1960, Whitechapel Art Gallery, December 1960–January 1961 (26, repr.); Henry Moore, Arts Council, Tate Gallery, July–September 1968 (96, repr.); Henry Moore 80th Birthday Exhibition, Bradford Art Galleries and Museums, April–June 1978 (8, repr.); The Henry Moore Gift, Tate Gallery, June–August 1978, repr.p.33
Lit: Will Grohmann, The Art of Henry Moore, 1960, pp.197–215; Herbert Read, Henry Moore, 1965, pp.203–8 (repr. pl.191); Henry Moore, John Russell and A. M. Hammacher, Drie Staande Motieven, Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterlo, 1965, n.p. (repr.); Philip James (ed.), Henry Moore on Sculpture, 1966, pp.253–7 (repr. pl.110); John Russell, Henry Moore, 1968, pp.141–56 (repr. pl.162); David Sylvester, catalogue of Henry Moore, Tate Gallery, 1968, p.127 (repr. pl.118, 130); John Hedgecoe and Henry Moore, Henry Moore, 1968, pp.245, 250; Alan G. Wilkinson, The Moore Collection in the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, 1979, p.139
Repr: Alan Bowness (ed.), Henry Moore Sculpture 1955–64, 1965, pl.22

These three sculptures [T02274, T02275, T02276], catalogued here together, are L.H. 377, 379 and 386 respectively. They are illustrated together as a group in Lund Humphries, volume 3, pl.17, 18, and 20 (three separate views). The Tate's grouping of the sculptures, with the ‘Glenkiln Cross’ in the middle, follows the format adopted by the Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, where the ‘Three Upright Motives’ were erected in April 1965, outdoors on a pedestal especially designed by the artist. The booklet which accompanied the unveiling of the sculptures, with a text by John Russell, remains one of the chief sources of information about the group, the other being Moore's own statements collected in James (1966) and Hedgecoe (1968). The three sculptures are also grouped together in the same arrangement at the Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, on a black granite base designed by Philip Johnson, architect of the Museum.

In the book with Hedgecoe, Moore wrote about the origin of the ‘Upright Motive’ series (thirteen maquettes were made in 1955 of which five, including the three catalogued here, were enlarged). ‘The maquettes...were triggered off for me by being asked by the architect to do a sculpture for the courtyard of the new Olivetti building in Milan. It is a very low horizontal one-storey building. My immediate thought was that any sculpture that I should do must be in contrast to this horizontal rhythm. It needed some vertical form in front of it. At the time I also wanted to have a change from the Reclining Figure theme that I had returned to so often.’ The maquettes were not in the end used for the Olivetti commission but Moore started to work on some of them in full size, for his own interest. ‘I started by balancing different forms one above the other-with results rather like the Northwest American totem poles - but as I continued the attempt gained more unity also perhaps became more organic - and then one in particular ...took on the shape of a crucifix - a kind of worn-down body and a cross merged into one.’ (James, op. cit., p.253). The sculpture which developed a primitive cruciform head later became known as the ‘Glenkiln Cross’ (T02274), after a farm on a private estate in Scotland where the first cast of the work was sited. The original plaster for this sculpture is in the Moore Collection, Art Gallery of Ontario.

Regarding the symbolism of the sculptures, Moore wrote of his predilection for working in threes when relating things (for example, the ‘Three Standing Women’ in Battersea Park) and how, when the ‘Glenkiln Cross’ was placed between two others, the three automatically assumed the appearance of a Crucifixion group. But in conversation with the compiler (12 December 1980) the artist stressed that the religious content was generalised, and elsewhere he has written that he does not necessarily ‘expect others to find this symbolism in the group’. However, the incision of a ladder and other Crucifixion symbols on the lower part of ‘Glenkiln Cross’ suggests that a religious interpretation would not be misplaced.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1978-80: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1981