Two Piece Reclining Figure, No. 3


Henry Moore ( British, 1898 - 1986 )

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General Description

Moore found that the reclining figure offered endless possibilities for the exploration of the human and organic form. He explained: "I think the reclining figure gave me a chance, a kind of subject matter, to create new forms within it." [1] He fragmented the figure in order to suggest forms of landscape. Referring to his work as a "metaphor for the human relationship with the earth," [2], Moore explained: "I realized what an advantage a separated, two-piece composition could have in relating figures to landscape."[3] Moore's reclining figures became increasingly mountainous and fractured, while still retaining unity; the forms in sculptures such as Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 2, 1960, were severed like rock and cliff faces drifting apart. Emphasis is on the separation of the two forms and the resulting activation of the space created between them. By breaking down the figure, he allowed the surrounding landscape to to penetrate it visually and physically. Despite Moore's fragmentation and engulfment of the figure within landscape, when his sculptures are sited in open air they appear at ease in their surroundings; it is a contradiction that lends a subtle complexity to Moore's later work.

[1] Artist's statement for the exhibition Henry Moore: Drawings, Gouaches, Watercolours, Galerie Beyeler, Basel, May—June 1970.

[2] Text of an interview with Moore on the television program Monitor; reprinted in part in Philip James, Henry Moore on Sculpture (London: Macdonald,1966), 266.

[3] Carlton Lake, "Henry Moore's World," Atlantic Monthly 209, no. 1 (January 1962): 39–45.

Adapted from

  • Anita Feldman Bennet, "A Sculptor's Collection," in Henry Moore: Sculpting the 20th Century, ed. Dorothy Kosinski (Dallas Museum of Art; New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2001), 52–61.

Web Resources

  • Tate
    Learn more about Henry Moore, his influences, and his work.

  • Tate
    See Moore's work, Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 2.