This bronze belongs to Henry Moore’s inventive 1930s, when Surrealism held profound significance for him. Despite this sculpture’s noncommittal title and nonobjective appearance, it suggests a supine nude woman—or rather the dismembered elements of the female anatomy in repose. The artist said of this work, “Although this sculpture looks abstract, it has organic elements. There are two separate forms—a head and a torso.” Disjointed or not, the human body is curiously invoked through the emphasis on its component parts, and ultimately, the work reinforces the figurative theme in a highly schematic fashion. The ball form is emphatically separate, suggestive of Moore’s assertion that “the umbilical area is absolutely central to me—the cord that attaches you to your mother, after all.” The compositional idea of separate, dislocated elements created for display on a unifying surface seems indebted to two artists Moore met in Paris in 1931–32, Hans Arp (1887–1966) and Alberto Giacometti (1901–1966), and specifically to their slightly earlier multiple-piece tableau sculpture. Some of the elements in Four-Piece Composition also recall the rounded, biomorphic shapes of Arp and Joan Miró (1893–1983) of around 1930 and the bonelike forms encountered in Pablo Picasso’s (1881–1973) paintings and drawings from the late 1920s.
Resource: From Blast to Pop: Aspects of Modern British Pop, 1915–1965, Richard Born, ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997.