Henry Moore OM, CH

Three Part Object


Not on display

Henry Moore OM, CH 1898–1986
Object: 1264 × 718 × 613 mm
Presented by the artist 1978

Catalogue entry


This sculpture comprises three irregular bulbous forms stacked on top of each other. The vertical arrangement arcs in a way that resembles a C-shape, although this is only obvious when seen from certain angles (fig.1). The outer surfaces of the curve are much flatter and smoother compared to those on the inside, which are rounder and fuller. The sculpture was designed in the round and certain features become more or less pronounced depending on the angle from which it is viewed.

The upper segment is the smallest of the three and a curved recess with sharp edges has been carved into one of its faces. A thin, angular spur projects outwards from the inside of this curve, extending from the smoother lateral face. From one side it appears as though the top of the form has been cut into at right angles, creating a groove or channel that runs the length of its apex (fig.2). An almost identical recess and projecting spur appear in the same face of the middle segment, although the curve of the recess has been less sharply delineated and it covers a larger surface area. This segment is positioned on a more vertical angle than the upper form but has a very similar shape. Like the top segment, it is deeper than it is wide.
The bottom segment is a slightly different shape (fig.3). It is much fuller and rounder but has one notably flatter face, which gives it the appearance of a slightly misshapen hemisphere. Viewed from one side the whole sculpture looks precariously balanced, with only a small area of the bottom form’s rounded surface touching the base. This affect is heightened by the way the segments above curve over the base as though they are about to fall. However, the large surface areas that connect the forms, and the evenness of the sculpture’s smoother outer curve give it a formal cohesion that seem to defy the instability of the composition.

From plaster to bronze

Reception and interpretation

The Henry Moore Gift

Alice Correia
April 2013


Henry Moore cited in David Sylvester, ‘Henry Moore talking to David Sylvester’, 7 June 1963, transcript of Third Programme, BBC Radio, broadcast 14 July 1963, p.18, Tate Archive TGA 200816. (An edited version of this interview was published in the Listener, 29 August 1963, pp.305–7).
Moore is known to have recycled certain forms in different sculptures, and he is believed to have used the same bone shape from the middle section of Three Part Object in Three Figures 1982 (The Henry Moore Foundation). This sculpture fuses its three bone-like fragments along a horizontal base so that their thin spurs project upwards rather than outwards, perhaps suggesting the form of a head. James Copper, Sculpture Conservator at the Henry Moore Foundation, interview with the author, 31 July 2013.
Julie Summers, ‘Fragment of Maquette for King and Queen’, in Claude Allemand-Cosneau, Manfred Fath and David Mitchinson (eds.), Henry Moore From the Inside Out: Plasters, Carvings and Drawings, Munich 1996, p.126.
Nevile Wallis, ‘Elemental Moore’, Observer, 27 November 1960, p.27; and [David Thompson], ‘Mr Henry Moore’s Exhilarating Exhibition’, Times, 28 November 1960, p.6.
Moore cited in John Hedgecoe (ed.), Henry Moore, London 1968, p.351.
Henry Moore cited in John Russell, Henry Moore, London 1973, p.186.
Alan Bowness, ‘Introduction’, in Alan Bowness (ed.), Henry Moore. Volume 4: Complete Sculpture 1964–73, London 1977, p.13.
Ibid., p.13.
Herbert Read, Henry Moore: Sculptor, London 1934, p.13.
Henry Moore, ‘Statement for Unit One’, in Herbert Read (ed.), Unit One: The Modern Movement in English Architecture, Painting and Sculpture, London 1934, pp.29–30, reprinted in Alan Wilkinson (ed.), Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, Aldershot 2002, p.192.
David Sylvester, Henry Moore, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1968, p.127.
Herbert Read, Henry Moore: A Study of his Life and Work, London 1965, p.240.
See 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.139.
[Richard Calvocoressi], ‘T.2285 Three Part Object’, The Tate Gallery 1978–80: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1981, p.128.
[Thompson] 1960, p.6.
Ibid., 1960, p.6.
Carola Giedion-Welcker, ‘Arp: An Appreciation’ in James Thrall Soby (ed.), Arp, exhibition catalogue, Museum of Modern Art, New York 1958, p.21.
Compare, for example, Henry Moore’s Composition 1932 (Tate T00385) and Jean Arp’s Sculpture To Be Lost in the Forest 1932, cast c.1953–8 (Tate T04854).
See ‘Note on the Henry Moore Gift’, 1978, Tate Public Records TG 4/6/10/4.
These figures are based on those listed in a memo in the exhibition’s records; see Tate Public Records TG 92/344/2.
Norman Reid, letter to Mary Danowski, 31 August 1978, Tate Public Records TG 4/6/10/4.
See Judith Jeffries, letter to Joanna Drew, 3 October 1978, Tate Public Records TG 4/9/400/1.

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