Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity

ISBN 978-1-84976-391-2

Henry Moore OM, CH Upright Motive No.2 1955-6, cast c.1958-62

Upright Motive No.2 is one of a series of tall standing sculptures made by Moore between 1955 and 1956 that originated from ideas he had developed in response to architectural commissions. Its amorphous shapes and vertical orientation recall Moore’s earlier surrealist works and his interest in prehistoric and ancient Greek art.
Henry Moore OM, CH 1898–1986
Upright Motive No.2
1955–6, cast c.1958–62
3353 x 768 x 972 mm
Presented by the artist 1978
In an edition of 5 plus 1 artist’s copy


Detail of circle and line motif on Upright Motive No.2 1955–6, cast c.1958–62
Tate T02275
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Detail of square-shaped cavity on Upright Motive No.2 1955–6, cast c.1958–62
Tate T02275
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved

Henry Moore
Henry Moore
Detail of pear-shaped form with triangles on Upright Motive No.2 1955–6, cast c.1958–62
Tate T02275
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Upright Motive No.2 1955–6, cast c.1958–62 is a tall, vertically-orientated four-sided bronze sculpture that resembles a totemic column. It is made up of rounded, undulating forms and irregular geometric shapes that appear to be stacked up on top of each other. An unornamented cuboid forms the base of the sculpture, on top of which sits a smaller cube featuring semi-spherical depressions linked by vertically incised lines on one side, and a deeper, square-shaped cavity on the other (figs.1 and 2). Continuing upward a roughly pear-shaped form exhibits a pronounced recession in its lower half above which, two shallow right-angled triangles have been carved (figs.3).
On top of this curved form is a rounded, disc-shaped protrusion, and a larger amorphous form that supports the upper section of the sculpture. The uppermost part of the sculpture has distinct sides: one features a rectangular relief with a round top edge that is adorned with a raised dome and half-moon shape (fig.4), while the other presents an arrangement of irregular bulbous forms (fig.5). These protrusions culminate in a conical projection with a domed impression at the apex.
Detail of upper section of Upright Motive No.2 1955–6, cast c.1958–62
Tate T02275
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Detail of amorphous protrusions on the upper section of Upright Motive No.2 1955-6, cast c.1958-62
Tate T02275
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved

Detail of connecting bar on flank of Upright Motive No.2 1955-6, cast c.1958-62
Tate T02275
Photo © The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
The sides of the sculpture do not have any specific markings. However, a vertical strip or bar can be seen on both flanks as if fixing the upper and lower sections of the sculpture together (fig.6). While it is unlikely that these features actually perform a practical function, they nonetheless contribute to the sense that different, sometimes disparate, elements have been artificially conjoined in this sculpture.
Henry Moore
Henry Moore
Upright Motive No.21955-6, cast c.1958-62, detail showing different surface textures and patination
Tate T02275
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
The surfaces of the sculpture are generally finely textured with short parallel lines, probably produced by filing tools. However, in some areas the surface is rougher and more irregular, indicating where the plaster of the original version (from which this bronze was cast) was applied (fig.7). The sculpture has a dark brown-black patina, although this has turned green in some areas as a result of weathering.

Making the Upright Motives

Upright Motive No.2 is one of a series of vertically-orientated sculptures known as ‘upright motives’ that Moore made between 1955 and 1956. Moore created thirteen small bronze maquettes for individual sculptures, of which five (numbers 1, 2, 5, 7 and 8) were enlarged to full size. In addition to Upright Motive No.2, Upright Motive No.1: Glenkiln Cross 1955–6, cast 1958–60 (Tate T02274) and Upright Motive No.7 1955–6, cast c.1958–61 (Tate T02276) are also held in the Tate collection. Discussing the series in 1968 Moore recalled:
The maquettes for this upright motif theme 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. So I did all these small maquettes. They were never used for the Milan building in the end because, at a later stage, when I found that the sculpture would virtually be in a car park, I lost interest. I had no desire to have a sculpture where half of it would be obscured most of the day by cars. I do not think that cars and sculptures really go well together.1
The cataloguer of Moore’s drawings, Ann Garrould, has identified four individual pages of sketches depicting upright motives dating from 1954–6 (fig.8).2 Each of the sketches in Upright Motives 1954–6 share compositional elements with Upright Motive No.2; the upright motive on the far left, for example is made up of multiple forms stacked on top of each other, while the other forms have each been divided into two distinct sections – a structured column and a sequence of bulbous forms. However, it is unlikely that these drawings were preliminary sketches for specific sculptures. The curator Alan Wilkinson has asserted that ‘there were no preparatory drawings for these works’, and indeed by the mid-1950s – when he created the upright motive series – Moore rarely worked directly from studies on paper, preferring instead to begin each new project by making small three-dimensional models in plaster, clay or other malleable materials.3 In 1978 Moore described his working practice, remarking ‘I have gradually changed from using preliminary drawings for my sculptures to working from the beginning in three-dimensions. That is, I first make a maquette for any idea I have for a sculpture ... I can hold it in my hand, turning it over to look at it from above, underneath, and in fact from any angle’.4
Henry Moore 'Upright Motives' 1954–6
Henry Moore
Upright Motives 1954–6
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Photo: Henry Moore Foundation Archive
Henry Moore 'Upright Motive: Maquette No.2' 1955
Henry Moore
Upright Motive: Maquette No.2 1955
Whereabouts unknown
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Photo: Henry Moore Foundation Archive

It is probable that Moore made the plaster maquette for Upright Motive No.2 (fig.9) in his maquette studio in the grounds of his home, Hoglands, at Perry Green in Hertfordshire. Formerly the village shop, the building was used by Moore in the 1950s for creating small plaster sculptures and was lined with shelves on which his collection of bones, shells, and pebbles – what he called his ‘library of natural forms’ – was stored.5 Surrounded by these objects, Moore appropriated their shapes when creating his own sculptures. In 1963 he explained to the critic David Sylvester how he worked with found natural objects:
I look at them, handle them, see them from all round, and I may press then into clay and pour plaster into that clay and get a start as a bit of plaster, which is a reproduction of the object. And then add to it, change it. In that sort of way something turns out in the end that you could never have thought of the day before.6
In 1955 Moore was just beginning to develop the working technique he described confidently to Sylvester in 1963. It is likely that Upright Motive No.2 developed from pieces of plaster cast from the impressions left by stones pressed into clay or plasticine, which were placed alongside modelled shapes. Once these pieces of plaster had hardened, Moore could then add and subtract forms, and smooth or sharpen edges to make the final plaster maquette. Moore had intended to cast the plaster Upright Motive: Maquette No.2 in bronze but it went missing before the edition could be made.7
Once Moore was happy with the design of his maquette a full-size plaster version would have been made, probably with the help of one of his assistants, who at the time included Daryll Hill, Peter King, Lenton Parr and Stephen Walker. Moore was able to allocate the bulk of this preliminary work to others because, as the curator Julie Summers has noted, the enlargement process was ‘a scientific rather than artistic process’.8 The first stage in this process involved constructing an armature out of wood or wire netting using the smaller maquette as a guide. Over this structure layers of plaster would then be built up, and the sculpture would begin to gain mass and form.
When the full-size plaster version was near completion Moore would inspect it and finish the details on the surface before sending it to a professional bronze foundry for casting. It is unknown when exactly Tate’s sculpture was cast, but records held in the Henry Moore Foundation Archive reveal that the edition of Upright Motive No.2 was cast at H.H. Martyn in Cheltenham. Moore used this foundry between c.1958 and 1970, although he also employed a number of others in London, Paris and Berlin over the course of this period.9 At the foundry the technicians used the plaster original to create hollow moulds into which molten bronze could be poured. Due to its size it is likely that Upright Motive No.2 was cast in sections that were then welded together.
Upright Motive No.2 exists in an edition of five plus one artist’s copy. Given how expensive it was to cast these large bronze sculptures Moore rarely cast a whole edition at once, and Moore’s original plasters were usually retained by the foundry until all the casts in an edition had been made. Letters sent between Moore and G.W. Reid at H.H. Martyn reveal that the foundry was making casts of Upright Motive No.2 between 1958 and 1962.10 Tate’s sculpture is not signed or numbered but since it was given to the gallery as part of the Henry Moore Gift, it is likely to be the artist’s copy.
Moore's assistants patinating bronze sculptures from the upright motive series c.1958–60
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Photo: John Hedgecoe
After casting at the foundry the bronze sculpture would have been returned to Moore so that he could examine its quality and make decisions about the patination. A patina is the surface colour of a sculpture, and is usually achieved by applying chemical solutions to the pre-heated bronze sculpture. In 1968 Moore remarked upon an undated photograph of his studio assistants patinating bronzes from the upright motive series (fig.10), explaining that, ‘my assistants are patinating the upright motifs, to give them the colour and surface quality I wanted. In my sculpture, whilst of course colour counts, it’s not the main thing. Otherwise I would have been a painter’.11
When the original plaster was retuned to Moore from the foundry it was placed outside in the grounds of Hoglands, where it slowly decayed over time and eventually toppled over. Moore first started working in plaster in the late 1940s, at which point these sculptures were regarded as steps in the casting process, and not of works of art in their own right. This explains why the plaster version of Upright Motive No.2 was allowed to collapse.

Sources and development

In his 1965 essay on Moore’s upright motives the critic John Russell sought to locate their origins in Moore’s earlier work.12 Although Moore was known chiefly for his horizontally-orientated reclining female figures such as Reclining Figure 1951 (Tate T02270), Russell demonstrated that Moore had also subjected the upright figure to consistent, albeit infrequent, examination throughout his career. From the early wood carving Torso 1927 (fig.11) and Stringed Figure of 1938 through to Three Standing Figures 1953 (fig.12), Russell provided a chronology of Moore’s vertical standing forms to which Upright Motive No.2 may be related.13 In the same year the critic Herbert Read concurred that Moore’s upright motives could ‘be regarded as a synthesis of significant forms that had been realised in the previous twenty years of the sculptor’s development’.14 Read identified Moore’s early interest in so-called ‘primitive’ art, his surrealist works of the 1930s, the impact of his visit to Greece in 1951, and the architectural commissions he undertook in the early 1950s as being instrumental to the formation of the upright motive series.
Henry Moore 'Torso' 1927
Henry Moore
Torso 1927
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Photo: Henry Moore Foundation Archive
Henry Moore 'Three Standing Figures' 1953
Henry Moore
Three Standing Figures 1953
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Photo: Henry Moore Foundation Archive

‘Primitive art’ was an over-arching term used by artists and art historians in the first half of the twentieth century to describe examples of non-Western art – such as indigenous art from Africa, North America, Asia and the Pacific Islands – and ancient, prehistoric and medieval European art. Spanning geography and historical time, primitive art was deemed to be more expressive and authentic than the staid naturalistic conventions of European fine art made since the Renaissance. Moore himself identified that his upright motives showed a resemblance to examples of primitive art. In 1965, for example, the sculptor noted that he began work on his maquettes ‘by balancing different forms one above the other – with results rather like the North-West American totem poles’.15 Read proposed that prototypes for Moore’s standing totems could be found in the prehistoric standing stones of Stonehenge and Avebury Circle in south-west England and Carnac in Brittany, France.16 Moore first visited Stonehenge as a student in autumn 1921 and retained an interest in the Neolithic standing stones throughout his career. According to the art historian Andrew Causey, Moore revisited the site on more than one occasion in the 1950s ‘when his daughter, Mary, was at school nearby’.17 Moore’s interest in Stonehenge culminated in a series of lithographs depicting the standing stones made in 1972–3 (see Tate P02169P02187).
Moore’s interest in Stonehenge was not unique and as the art historian Sam Smiles has outlined, by the 1930s a number of artists within Moore’s circle, including the painter Paul Nash and the sculptor Barbara Hepworth, had developed an appeal for the standing stones considering them to be examples of British primitive art.18 In a letter to Nash written on 15 September 1933 Moore responded to a query stating, ‘Yes. I’ve seen Stonehenge. Its [sic] very impressive. I’ve read somewhere that certain primitive peoples coming across a large block of stone in their wanderings would worship it as a god – which is easy to understand, for there’s a sense of immense power about a large rough-shaped lump of rock or stone’.19 In their essay examining Moore’s outdoor sculptures, art historians Penelope Curtis and Fiona Russell suggested that ‘by the later 1930s Moore and Hepworth were clearly ready to suggest that their own sculptures were monuments in a lineage of stone monuments of the Neolithic builders, with perhaps a similarly arcane or forgotten purpose. Their sculptures were at once ancient and modern, or, to use the title of Paul Nash’s painting, Equivalents for the Megaliths’ (see Tate T01251).20
Henry Moore 'Small Relief: Lower Half of 'Upright Motive: Maquette No.1'' 1955
Henry Moore
Small Relief: Lower Half of 'Upright Motive: Maquette No.1' 1955
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All rights reserved
Henry Moore 'Ideas for Sculpture' c.1935
Henry Moore
Ideas for Sculpture c.1935
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved

Henry Moore 'Composition' 1933
Henry Moore
Composition 1933
British Council Collection
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
In 1955, when he began work on the upright motive series, Moore made a small terracotta relief sculpture featuring vertical striations, a raised half moon and a circular mound (fig.13), which he used as a design for the relief found on the upper section of Upright Motive No.2. The curator Alan Wilkinson has suggested that the relief and its designs were conceived in a drawing made by Moore around c.1935 (fig.14). The sketch in the upper left-hand corner of this drawing presents a vertical form comprised of vertical parallel lines that terminate at a pair of rounded shapes at the bottom. The page is annotated with the words, ‘New Ireland | strings’, indicating the geographical area where the depicted object was made and, perhaps, the character of the vertical lines.21 New Ireland is a large island in Papua New Guinea and Garrould has suggested that Moore may have sketched the ‘shield or implement whilst on a visit to the Ethnographical department of the British Museum’.22 Although the original source has not been identified, it is known that Moore made regular trips to the museum following his arrival in London in 1921 and used its collection of prehistoric, medieval and non-Western art as a source of inspiration for sculptural ideas throughout his career. With this in mind, an unnamed critic writing about Moore’s upright motives in the Burlington Magazine in 1965 suggested that ‘we can find echoes of their monumentality in Scottish early medieval crosses, in Celtic art and even in ancient Assyrian obelisks. Perhaps the days Moore spent in the British Museum thirty-five years before these sculptures were executed left him with some feeling for the grandeur and strangeness of upright stone monoliths’.23
Herbert Read also noted the extent to which Moore’s upright motives were indebted to his surrealist sculptures of the 1930s.24 The conical projection at the apex of Upright Motive No.2 may have its origins in Moore’s series of cyclopic forms such as Composition 1933 (fig.15), created, according to Read, during Moore’s most ‘surreal’ phase. The circular depression at its apex, around which a circular line has been incised, appears to bear a close relationship to the ‘eyes’ of sculptures like Composition, which are identifiable by a round point at the head of a growth emerging smoothly from the surface. Although Moore has been described by the art historian Michel Remy as an active member of a group of artists, writers and critics, including Nash, Read and Roland Penrose, who engaged with surrealist ideas and motifs during the decade, art historian David Nash has observed that ‘Moore approached Surrealism selectively’.25
Henry Moore 'Ideas for Sculpture and Artist's Notes' 1937
Henry Moore
Ideas for Sculpture and Artist's Notes 1937
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Photo: Henry Moore Foundation Archive
Henry Moore 'Helmet Head No.1' 1950, cast 1960
Henry Moore
Helmet Head No.1 1950, cast 1960
Tate T00388
Photo © The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved

The loosely pear-shaped form with an angular indentation that is positioned towards the foot of Upright Motive No.2 can perhaps be traced to drawings Moore made of ancient Greek helmets in 1937 (fig.16) and to his series of ‘Helmet Head’ sculptures from the 1950s (fig.17). The rounded dome of Helmet Head No.1 1950, with its cut-away areas pre-dates the helmet-like section of Upright Motive No.2 with its smooth, rounded form into which is cut an almost right-angled recess.
Henry Moore 'Etruscan Pottery and Heads' 1955–6
Henry Moore
Etruscan Pottery and Heads 1955–6
The Henry Moore Foundation
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Photo: Henry Moore Foundation Archive
Henry Moore 'Six Standing Forms' 1955–56
Henry Moore
Six Standing Forms 1955–56
The Henry Moore Foundation
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Photo: Henry Moore Foundation Archive

In addition to Moore’s evident interest in ancient Greek helmets, Upright Motive No.2, and indeed the upright motive series, may be regarded as the culmination of a sequence of formal developments made after Moore’s first and only trip to Greece in 1951. Following his trip Moore made a drawing of two vases, annotated with the phrase ‘Etruscan Pottery’ (fig.18). At the sketches present two different types of vase; on the left is an elongated form, suggestive of Greek neck-amphorae: tall ceramic pots with distinctive handles and a thin tubular neck,26 while the vase on the right is a vertical arrangement of interlocking parts. The same sketchbook contains other drawings in which Moore appears to have developed the vases into a series of segmented female figures (fig.19). As well as sharing a comparable stacked arrangement, the drawings of female figures and Upright Motive No.2 also feature the same motif of circles connected by vertical lines. Although Moore did not sign or date these sketches they have been retrospectively dated 1955–6. However, the cataloguer of Moore’s drawings, Ann Garrould, noted that the other contents of the notebook in which these sketches were made indicates that ‘the notebook was started well before 1955’.27 This in turn supports Garrould’s argument that these sketches also influenced the design of Moore’s Bird Table, which was made in 1954.28
Henry Moore
Henry Moore
Bird Table 1954, in the garden at Hoglands
The Henry Moore Foundation
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Photo: Henry Moore Foundation Archive
Although it is not usually discussed in relation to Moore’s sculptural work because of its functional purpose, Bird Table (fig.20) nonetheless shares similar formal characteristics with the upright motives and should be regarded as an important precursor to the series. Moore’s daughter Mary observed that, ‘of course it takes its shape from those kinds of forms you find in terracotta, repeating the ideas of Grecian or Minoan vases’.29 The middle segment of Bird Table – linked to the uppermost segment by arched handles and decorated with pierced holes and vertical lines – is particularly resonant of Greek neck-amphorae. The ornamentation on this section also uses the same linked-circle motif found in the sketch and Upright Motive No.2. As the curator Alan Wilkinson has noted, ‘some of the individual forms in each of the upright motives ... were taken from the maquettes for the large Bird Table of 1954’.30 These may include the conical form imprinted with right-angled triangles that prefigures the upper part of the helmet-shaped section of Upright Motive No.2, and the hollowed cubic form which can be seen near the base of both sculptures.
Henry Moore 'Upright Motive Relief: Maquette No.2' c.1954
Henry Moore
Upright Motive Relief: Maquette No.2 c.1954
Leeds City Art Gallery
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Moore’s time in Greece and his study of caryatids may have also stimulated a reassessment of the relationship between art and architecture. Moore’s first public commission had been an architectural relief –The West Wind 1928 – for the London Underground Building at St James’s; it was a commission he had been reluctant to accept, explaining, ‘relief sculpture symbolised for me the humiliating subservience of the sculptor to the architect, for in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, the architect only thought of sculpture as a surface decoration’.31 However, on his return from Greece Moore undertook the commission to create a relief screen for the new Time-Life building on New Bond Street, London, in 1952–3, before collaborating with the architect Michael Rosenauer on a design for an extension to Marconi House on the Strand in 1954. For this commission Moore made a series of six maquettes of vertical forms to be positioned on the proposed building’s façade. Significantly, all of these maquettes included a cubic base and stacked geometric forms while three, including Upright Motive Relief: Maquette No.2 (fig.21), utilised the same rectangular relief with a half moon found on Upright Motive No.2. This maquette also anticipates Moore’s use of the hollowed cube and relief decoration in Upright Motive No.2. Nine competing designs for the new building were judged on 14 February 1955 but the commission was awarded to Gordon Tait. As the curator Peyton Skipwith has noted, ‘as Rosenauer did not win the competition the scheme did not reach fruition’.32 Consequently Moore’s designs were never enlarged to full size, leaving him free to reuse his ideas in other projects.
Henry Moore 'Wall Relief: Maquette No.2' 1955
Henry Moore
Wall Relief: Maquette No.2 1955
The Henry Moore Foundation
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Photo: Darren Chung, Henry Moore Foundation Archive
Moore’s designs for Marconi House were largely unknown during the 1960s and 1970s and were not included in the artist’s catalogue raisonné, published in 1955. However, in 1960 the art critic Will Grohmann observed that the upright motive series could be linked to another architectural commission dating from 1954, a sculptural relief wall that Moore designed for the façade of the Bowcentrum in Rotterdam.33 In preparation for this commission Moore created ten rectangular maquettes, each presenting a sequence of linear configurations of various forms including square blocks, cones, prisms, shells and pebbles arranged into vertical lines and set in relief against a flat ground. According to the curator Anita Feldman Bennet, Moore created these maquettes ‘by pressing found objects into clay and casting in plaster and bronze the mysterious organic impressions which resulted’.34 However, the repetition of specific, legible forms in the maquettes – in particular the half moon, the cone imprinted with triangles, and the hollow square, which can all be seen in Wall Relief: Maquette No.2 1955 (fig.22) – presents a greater degree of structure and control than Feldman Bennet’s description of ‘mysterious organic impressions’ implies.
The final work for the Bouwcentrum in Rotterdam was constructed in brick and comprised rounded, organic shapes framed by vertical striations on both sides and geometric blocks above and below. According to John Russell, Moore’s relief works were, ‘abstract arrangements that had a formal life of their own: a vigorous, chunky, all-purpose vitality that seemed to burst out of the columnar structure and set off all manner of associations. They were not so much reliefs as free-standing sculptures that seemed to have sunk into the body of the wall’.35 Following a discussion with Moore on 12 December 1980, Tate curator Richard Morphet reported that the Bouwcentrum commission ‘led to the idea of releasing the forms from their incorporation in the fabric of the wall so that they become free-standing’.36

Grouping the Upright Motives

Tate’s cast of Upright Motive No.2 was first exhibited in Moore’s solo exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, in 1960 where it was displayed in a grouping alongside Upright Motive No.1: Glenkiln Cross and Upright Motive No.7. Although each of the upright motives were conceived as individual artworks, Moore later suggested that the idea of presenting numbers one, two and seven together had come to him at an early stage in their development. In 1965 Moore claimed that ‘when I came to carry out some of these maquettes in their final full size, three of them grouped themselves together’. 37
Upright Motive No.7 1955–6, cast c.1958–61, Upright Motive No.1: Glenkiln Cross 1955–6, cast 1958–60, and Upright Motive No.2 1955–6, cast c.1958–62 installed at the Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller in Otterlo, 1965
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Photo: Henry Moore Foundation Archive
In 1965 the Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller in Otterlo, the Netherlands, purchased examples of the three upright motives displayed as a triptych at the Whitechapel Gallery and invited Moore to design a pedestal for their outdoor display (fig.23). The sculptures were unveiled in April 1965 and at this time Moore described how the tripartite group reflected Christian imagery, stating that ‘in my mind, [they] assumed the aspect of a crucifixion scene as though framed against the sky above Golgotha. – (But I do not especially expect others to find this symbolism in the group)’.38 According to Christian belief, Golgotha was the hilltop site outside Jerusalem where Jesus Christ was crucified, flanked by two thieves. In 1968 Russell analysed Moore’s statement, suggesting that the phrase ‘in my mind’ was central to understanding Moore’s relationship with both his work and his audience.39 Russell noted that Moore rarely made direct statements about the meaning of his work and that in this instance Moore personalised his interpretation, stressing that he did not expect others to find Christian symbolism in the work.40 Russell himself concluded that ‘the combination of the three Motives does not seem to me necessarily to have anything to do with the Crucifixion’.41 Nonetheless, Moore returned to these religious interpretations in 1968, saying that ‘I often work in threes when relating things. Take the symbolic cross motif. I realised that, whenever it was placed with others, it had to be in the middle. When placed between two others, the three became a crucifixion group’.42
Graham Sutherland 'Standing Forms II' 1952
Graham Sutherland
Standing Forms II 1952
Tate T03113
© The estate of Graham Sutherland
Moore’s sculptures may also be understood in relation to the presentation of religious themes and subjects by other artists working at the time. In 1965 a critic writing in the Burlington Magazine observed that Moore’s upright motives were created ‘at roughly the same time as Graham Sutherland was experimenting with the same type of figure in his paintings’.43 However, it was not until 1998 that this reference to the British painter Sutherland was explored further. In her book New Art / New World: British Art in Postwar Society the art historian Margaret Garlake compared Moore’s upright motives with contemporaneous works by Sutherland, remarking that the triptych of sculptures produced ‘a set of variations on natural forms that were congruent with Christian imagery in a manner comprable to Sutherland’s standing forms’.44 For example, in paintings such as Standing Forms II 1952 (fig.24), Sutherland depicted three vertical forms comprised of interlocking organic shapes, some of which are positioned on plinths. These associations are strengthened by the fact that Moore knew Sutherland’s work well. Not only was he present at the unveiling of Sutherland’s Crucifixion 1946 at St Matthew’s Church in Northampton (which had also commissioned Moore’s Madonna and Child 1943–4), but he also exhibited alongside Sutherland in the British Pavilion at the 1952 Venice Biennale.

The Henry Moore Gift

Henry Moore presented Upright Motive No.2 to the Tate Gallery in 1978 as part of the Henry Moore Gift. The Gift comprised thirty-six sculptures in bronze, marble and plaster and was exhibited in its entirety alongside Tate’s existing collection of Moore’s work in an exhibition celebrating the artist’s eightieth birthday, which opened in June 1978. A press release was duly prepared announcing that ‘The group [of sculptures] is the most substantial gift of works ever given to the Tate by an artist during his lifetime’.45 Upright Motive No.2 was displayed next to Upright Motive No.1: Glenkiln Cross and Upright Motive No.7 in the Duveen Galleries during the exhibition, and photographs taken while they were on display indicate that the three sculptures all had different patinas (fig.25). The exhibition was attended by over 20,500 people and nearly 11,000 copies of the catalogue were sold.46 At the close of the exhibition in late August 1978 the Director of Tate Norman Reid reflected in a letter to Moore’s daughter that although he was sad to see the exhibition come to an end ‘we have the consolation of the splendid group of sculptures which Henry has presented to the nation’.47
Upright Motive No.7, Upright Motive No.1: Glenkiln Cross and Upright Motive No.2 on display in the Duveen Galleries, Tate Gallery, London, 1978
Tate Archives
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Upright Motive No.7, Upright Motive No.1: Glenkiln Cross and Upright Motive No.2 installed on the front lawn, Tate Gallery, London
Tate Archive
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved

Following the exhibition the three upright motive sculptures were returned to Moore. In a letter to Moore’s secretary Betty Tinsley dated 25 July 1978, Ruth Rattenbury, Assistant Keeper of the Collection, itemised a number of works to be returned to the artist for repairs, and of the three upright motives noted that, ‘Mr Moore said that he would have them treated so that they were all the same colour’.48 In May 1979 the sculptures were returned to Tate and installed on a specially designed base on the lawn in front of the gallery. It is evident from the photographs taken of the installation at the time that the sculptures no longer displayed the variations in colour as they had previously (fig.26).
All three Upright Motive sculptures in the Tate Collection remained on display on the Tate lawn until April 1983 when they were relocated to the nearby Battersea Park. Apart from being removed temporarily for display at the Royal Academy of Arts and at Tate in 1988 and 1992 respectively, the sculptures remained in the park until October 1994. At that time, the decision was made to permanently remove all three of the upright motives after Upright Motive No.2 was forcefully rocked by vandals until it fell over. On inspecting the damage it was noted by Tate conservators that the sculpture had also been marked with graffiti (fig.27). After its restoration Upright Motive No.2 was placed on long-term loan to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in Wakefield along with Upright Motive No.1: Glenkiln Cross and Upright Motive No.7 (fig.28), although they were returned to Tate in 2003 and exhibited in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern for the display Henry Moore: Public Sculptures.
Detail of graffiti on Upright Motive No.2 1955–6, cast c.1958–62, in 1994
Tate Archive
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Upright Motive No.7 1955–6, cast c.1958–61, Upright Motive No.1: Glenkiln Cross 1955–6, cast 1958–60, and Upright Motive No.2 1955–6, cast c.1958–62 installed at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, November 2013
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved

Upright Motive No.2 1955–6, cast c.1958–62, on display in the water garden, Harlow
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
The other five casts of Upright Motive No.2 are held in a private collection, the Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller in Otterlo, the Amon Carter Museum of Western Art in Fort Worth, the Municipality of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, and the Harlow Arts Trust in Essex. The latter was bought by the Trust in 1963 with the help of the Gulbenkian Foundation and is displayed in a prominent position in the water gardens in the town centre of Harlow (fig.30). Moore lived just a few miles from Harlow and saw it develop from a rural village into a ‘New Town’. In 1954 he had been commissioned to create the sculpure, Family Group 1954, which came to symbolise the aspirations of Harlow. In 1973 Moore noted the value of the Harlow Art Trust, which oversaw the commission and acquisition of modern sculpture for the town, stating, ‘that the Trust has chosen to acquire sculpture is particularly commendable because the works, standing in the open as they do, are seen by far more people than are confined to a gallery, and seen moreover by people who are not especially interested in art. In this way sculpture can become part of everyday existence’.49

Alice Correia
March 2013


Henry Moore cited in John Hedgecoe (ed.), Henry Moore, London 1968, p.245.
Ann Garrould, Henry Moore. Volume 4: Complete Drawings 1950–76, London 2003, p.73.
Alan G. Wilkinson, Henry Moore Remembered: The Collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, Toronto 1987, p.160.
Henry Moore cited in Gemma Levine, With Henry Moore: The Artist at Work, London 1978, p.123.
See Henry Moore at Perry Green, London 2011, p.17.
Henry Moore in ‘Henry Moore Talking to David Sylvester’, 7 June 1963, transcript of Third Programme, broadcast BBC Radio, 14 July 1963, Tate Archive TGA 200816, p.18. (An edited version of this interview was published in the Listener, 29 August 1963, pp.305–7.)
Henry Moore sales log book, Henry Moore Foundation Archive.
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.
Henry Moore sales log book, Henry Moore Foundation Archive.
G.W. Reid, letter to Henry Moore, 25 November 1960, Henry Moore Foundation Archive.
Moore in Hedgecoe 1968, p.248.
John Russell in Henry Moore, John Russell and A. M. Hammacher, Drie Staande Motieven, Otterlo 1965, unpaginated.
Ibid., figs.1–7.
Herbert Read, Henry Moore: A Study of his Life and Work, London 1965, p.206.
Henry Moore in Moore, Russell and Hammacher 1965, unpaginated.
Read 1965, p.206.
Andrew Causey, The Drawings of Henry Moore, London 2010, p.71.
See Sam Smiles, ‘Equivalents for the Megaliths: Prehistory and English Culture, 1920–50’, in David Peters Corbett, Ysanne Holt and Fiona Russell (eds.), The Geographies of Englishness: Landscape and the National Past 1880–1940, New Haven 2002, pp.199–223.
Henry Moore, letter to Paul Nash, 15 September 1933, Tate Archive TGA 8313/1/2/153.
Penelope Curtis and Fiona Russell, ‘Henry Moore and the Post-War British Landscape: Monuments Ancient and Modern’, in Jane Beckett and Fiona Russell (eds.), Henry Moore: Critical Essays, Aldershot 2003, p.138.
Moore’s niece, Ann Garrould, who catalogued Moore’s drawings, deciphered Moore’s hand written note as ‘New Ireland | stump’, while the art historian Christa Lichtenstern has read it as ‘New Ireland | string’. See Ann Garrould (ed.), Henry Moore. Volume 2: Complete Drawings 1930–39, London 1998, p.154, and Christa Lichtenstern, Henry Moore: Work-Theory-Impact, London 2008, p.205.
Garrould 1998, p.154.
Anon., ‘Acquisitions of Works of Art by Museums and Galleries: Supplement’, Burlington Magazine, vol.107, no.747, June 1965, p.338.
Read 1965, p.206.
David Nash, ‘Moore and Surrealism Reconsidered’, in Dorothy Kosinski (ed.),Henry Moore: Sculpting the 20th Century, exhibition catalogue, Dallas Museum ofArt, Dallas 2001, p.50. See also Michel Remy, Surrealism in Britain, Aldershot 1999.
See, for example, http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/10.210.7, accessed 18 February 2014.
Garrould 2003, p.89.
Ibid., p.92.
Mary Moore, ‘Catalogue’, in Gregor Muir (ed.), Henry Moore: Ideas for Sculpture, exhibition catalogue, Hauser & Wirth, London 2010, p.154.
Wilkinson 1987, p.155.
Henry Moore, ‘Sculpture in the Open Air: A Talk by Henry Moore on his Sculpture and its Placing in Open-Air Sites’, March 1955, transcript ed. by Robert Melville, Tate Artist Catalogue File, Henry Moore, A23941, reprinted in Philip James (ed.), Henry Moore on Sculpture, London 1966, p.97.
Peyton Skipwith, ‘Catalogue’, in Henry Moore and Michael Rosenauer, exhibition catalogue, Fine Art Society, London 1988, unpaginated.
Will Grohmann, The Art of Henry Moore, London 1960, p.197.
Anita Feldman Bennet, ‘Rediscovering Humanism’, in Henry Moore: In the Light of Greece, exhibition catalogue, Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation Museum of Contemporary Art, Andros 2000, p.69.
John Russell, Henry Moore, London 1968, p.151.
[Richard Calvocoressi], ‘T.2281, Three Motives Against Wall No.2’, The Tate Gallery 1978–80: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1981, p.126.
Moore in Moore, Russell and Hammacher 1965, unpaginated.
Russell 1968, p.141.
Ibid., p.143.
Ibid., p.155.
Moore cited in Hedgecoe 1968, p.250.
Anon., ‘Acquisitions of Works of Art by Museums and Galleries: Supplement’, Burlington Magazine, vol.107, no.747, June 1965, p.338.
Margaret Garlake, New Art / New World: British Art in Postwar Society, New Haven and London 1998, p.191.
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 records for the exhibition. 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.
Ruth Rattenbury, letter to Mrs B. Tinsley, 25 July 1978, Tate Public Records TG 92/344/2.
Henry Moore, ‘Preface’, in Sculpture in Harlow, Harlow 1973, unpaginated.

How to cite

Alice Correia, ‘Upright Motive No.2 1955–6, cast c.1958–62 by Henry Moore OM, CH’, catalogue entry, March 2013, in Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity, Tate Research Publication, 2015, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/henry-moore/henry-moore-om-ch-upright-motive-no2-r1151467, accessed 26 January 2022.