Upright Motive No.7
1955–6, cast c.1958–61
3404 x 772 x 972 mm
Presented by the artist 1978
In an edition of 5 plus 1 artist’s copy
Technique and condition
Once the plaster was complete a mould was taken from it so that it could be cast in hollow bronze. The maximum size of any one piece of cast bronze depends upon the size of the crucible at the foundry, as the bronze must be cast in a single pour. In practice this means that bronzes of this size are usually cast in sections, which are then welded together. This sculpture was probably cast in at least three separate pieces although the weld seams have been disguised using a technique known as ‘chasing’. This involves filing down any excess metal from the weld before texturing the bronze with punch tools to match the surrounding surface.
Making the Upright Motives
Sources and development
15 Although Moore’s statement suggests that the resemblance was coincidental rather than intentional, his reference to non-Western art indicates that Moore remained sensitive to forms that he first encountered in the British Museum in the later 1920s and 1930s. During this time Moore made regular trips to the museum and went on to use its collection of prehistoric, non-Western and medieval art as a source of inspiration for sculptural ideas throughout his career. In 1980 Moore was invited to identify objects from the British Museum collection that had influenced his work, and these were then collated in the photographic book Henry Moore at the British Museum (1981).16 In this book an illustration of Upright Motive No.7 was reproduced alongside that of a carved bird-faced figurative sculpture made by the Arawak people, indigenous to the Caribbean (fig.14). Moore wrote: ‘What I liked about this was the way the sculpture was built up in divisions, lump upon lump, as though it were breathing in matter, up from the toes, along the arms from the fingers, into the great swelling chest’.17 Moore’s emphasis upon the compartmentalisation of the figure and the momentum created by its swelling forms indicates one way in which non-Western sources may have influenced the composition of Upright Motive No.7.
During the Second World War, when a lack of available materials brought Moore’s sculptural activity to a near standstill, he made a number of drawings depicting a crowd of people gathered before a towering standing sculpture shrouded in fabric (fig.16). The curator Alan Wilkinson has asserted that ‘the source was almost certainly the photograph in [Leo] Frobenius’s Kulturgeschichte Afrikas (1933) showing a group of Nupe tribesmen from northern Nigeria standing around two veiled (but not tied-up) Dako cult dance costumes’ (fig.17).23 Moore owned a copy of Frobenius’s book and its reproductions served as the basis for several drawings he executed during the mid-1930s. According to Wilkinson, Crowd Looking at a Tied-Up Object was ‘undoubtedly Moore’s most famous pictorial drawing’, and had ‘Surrealistic overtones’.24 By the 1970s the critics Robert Melville and John Russell had both identified an affinity between the sculptural character of the upright motives and what they regarded as the surreal mood and content of his earlier drawing.25 Melville wrote:
The origins of the bulbous form halfway up Upright Motive No.7 and the circular indentations in its surface may be traced to works made by Moore following his first and only visit to Greece in February 1951. On his return home Moore made a sketch of two vases or urns, annotated with the phrase ‘Etruscan Pottery’ (fig.18). These rounded containers then formed the basis of a series of drawings depicting segmented female figures (fig.19). In addition to the similarities between these figures and Upright Motive No.7 in terms of their construction – in distinct units, conjoined by smooth curves – affinities can also be identified in their decoration. The three evenly spaced holes encircling the swollen midriff of one figure (fig.19), which have been drawn to give the impression that they have been cut out from a solid mass, resemble in their appearance and placement the circular depressions made in the surface of Upright Motive No.7. 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 in 2003 that the other contents of the notebook in which these sketches were made indicates that ‘the notebook was started well before 1955’.27
Grouping the Upright Motives
38 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’.39 For example, in paintings such as Standing Forms II 1952 (Tate T03113; fig.22), 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 and his 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.
Moore’s work from the 1950s might nevertheless be viewed through the lens of post-war anxiety, as the work of Bacon and a younger generation of sculptors, including Lynn Chadwick and Reg Butler, have been previously. Stallabrass engaged one possible line of enquiry to this end with his claim that Moore’s sources for the upright motive series included a series of drawings he executed at the National Army Museum in 1941–2 (fig.25).43 Made while Moore was an Official War Artist, these drawings depict the internal workings of bombs. Their smooth outer casings contain complex mechanical workings, protrusions and taught wires that predate the rods and ribs visible in the upper section of Upright Motive No.7. For Stallabrass these drawings demonstrate that ‘the concerns of the upright motives are closer to Moore’s response to the war than to the ahistorical matters which solely primitive influences and associations would imply’.44
In 1966 Moore returned to Upright Motive No.7 and created two drawings of the sculpture (see fig.26). It is unclear why Moore chose to revisit the sculpture at this particular time, but it is notable that in 1966–8 he also made an etching of Crowd Looking at a Tied-Up Object as part of a portfolio of prints entitled Meditations on the Effigy (see Tate P02079). The portfolio was published to mark the artist’s seventieth birthday and Robert Melville described the prints, which drew on earlier sketches and sculptures, as reflections on ‘a lifetime of creative enterprise’.45 It is possible that Moore had considered a graphic rendition of Upright Motive No.7 for the portfolio.
The Henry Moore Gift
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. On 26 May Tate was notified that vandals had breached the security fence surrounding the sculptures, which were still in the process of being installed, and had set fire to the protective canvas covering Upright Motive No.1: Glenkiln Cross and Upright Motive No.7. As a result the patina and surface of the lower areas of the two sculptures were charred.50 Despite this inauspicious start, the installation of the three upright motives continued as planned, and they were positioned in a prominent position on top of a raised incline. Apart from being removed temporarily for display at the Royal Academy of Arts and at Tate in 1988 and 1992 respectively, the sculptures remained at Battersea Park until October 1994. That month Upright Motive No.2 was forcefully rocked by vandals until it fell over and the decision was made to permanently remove all three of the upright motives from the park. They were subsequently placed on long-term loan to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in Wakefield (fig.29) although they were returned to Tate in 2003 and exhibited in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern for the display Henry Moore: Public Sculptures. In 2011 Upright Motive No.7 was displayed individually in the exhibition Single Form: The Body in Sculpture from Rodin to Hepworth in the Duveen Galleries at Tate Britain.51
How to cite
Alice Correia, ‘Upright Motive No.7 1955–6, cast c.1958–61 by Henry Moore OM, CH’, catalogue entry, March 2013, in Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity, Tate Research Publication, 2015, https://www