Invited by the title of this sculpture to expect a description of a human torso, the viewer may notice a striking absence of the solid body that lies below the shoulders, at least in a living being.
Basing the piece on the shoulder-bone structure of a male torso, Moore actually made a simplified skeleton. The shapes of bones fascinated Moore. He was also one of the many artists of his generation who wanted to escape the classical tradition—in his words, to remove "the Greek spectacles from the eyes of the modern sculptor"—and who therefore studied objects of many eras and areas, from Cycladic art to pre-Columbian art to the African and Oceanic art of relatively recent times. "Keep ever prominent the world tradition-the big view of Sculpture," Moore once wrote, and the near-abstract forms of his art show how far he left classical naturalism behind.
In its scale and weight, Large Torso evokes a natural form—perhaps an arch of wind-smoothed rock. The word Arch in the work's title also asks viewers to look at that central vacancy, as important formally as the solid bronze. Stripping the skeleton of flesh, and melding it with landscape, Moore gives his work the sense of having been shaped by the long passage of time.
Large Torso: Arch. 1962-63
Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 284.