Pipe Dream
Masterwork by Henry Moore at Bonhams New York Impressionist & Modern Art Auction

The British sculptor Henry Moore was always a shrewd interpreter of his own work. After a career spent mastering technically complex expressions of the human form, he moved in his mature years towards a more purist, stylized idiom. As Moore once said, it was a change in approach enabled him to 'present the human psychological context of my work with the greatest clearness and intensity'. Two Piece Sculpture No. 7: Pipe is a perfect example of what the artist meant. It leads Bonhams Impressionist and Modern Art Sale in New York on Tuesday 7 July. Sculpted in 1966, is estimated at $550,000-800,000.

Bonhams Director of Impressionist and Modern Art in New York, Molly Ott Ambler, said: "With its nuanced surface and near-abstract manner, Two Piece Sculpture No. 7: Pipe brilliantly exemplifies the shift in Henry Moore's development towards abstraction. The pointed, almost piercing element stands in sharp contrast to the soft curved forms that had characterized most of his sculptural output until then."

Moore (1898-1986) began to create sculptures consisting of more than one piece in the 1930s when, according to his own account, he "realized what an advantage a separate two-piece composition could have in relating figures to landscape. If it is a single figure you can guess what it's going to be like. If it is in two pieces, there's a bigger surprise, you have more unexpected views."

Moore said of Two Piece Sculpture No. 7: Pipe that the work represented "an attempt to make a sculpture which is varied in all its views and forms... By adding two pieces together the differences are not simply doubled. As in mathematics, they are geometrically multiplied, producing an infinite variety of viewpoints."

Writing in the summer 2020 edition of Bonhams Magazine, the art critic Mark Hudson said, "This is a work that presents the "human psychological context" of Moore's oeuvre with a disconcerting explicitness. It makes an excellent starting point for the rediscovery of a complex body of late work whose deeper resonances have yet to be explored."

Two Piece Sculpture No. 7: Pipe was cast in bronze in a numbered edition of nine plus one artist's proof. Other bronze casts of this work are in the collections of the Tate Gallery, London and The Whitworth Gallery at the University of Manchester. The original plaster from which the bronzes were cast is in the Henry Moore Sculpture Centre at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto.

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