Barbara Hepworth unique modernist sculptures

Two Forms with White (Greek) 1963, Sculpture by Barbara Hepworth
Two Forms with White (Greek) 1963 – Photograph by Jonty Wilde @The Hepworth Wakefield

Hej lovely people, it’s been a while. I’ve been busy with other projects and trying to catch some sun in the beautiful Stockholm summer. 🙂 Today’s article is all about taking a slow approach to observe the incredible sculptures of Barbara Hepworth!


Dame Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975) was a leading sculptor of British modernism famous for her organic shaped, smooth and pierced pieces.

Sculptor Barbara Hepworth in 1961
Barbara Hepworth at the Palais de Danse, 1961 – Photograph by Rosemary Mathews @The Hepworth Wakefield

Studies and influences

After studies in Florence and London, she starts to carve directly on the materials, instead of using preliminary moulding and would master the technique in stone, metal and wood.

During the 1930s Hepworth was a member of the French group Abstraction-Création with names like Mondrian, Le Corbusier, Jean and Sophie Taeuber-Arp and visits to Brancusi atelier take her to work towards simple and essential forms.

Her organic approach to sculpture is pushed even further when she moves to St. Ives, a seaside town in Cornwall, England after the break of World War II. The experience of living surrounded by nature, especially the close relationship with the sea would be decisive in the artist’s career.


Successful artist

Hepworth reached significant success during life, receiving important public commissions and creating large scale works around England and also in New York for the United Nations headquarters.

In 1950 she represented Britain at the Venice Biennale and in 1959 won the São Paulo Bienal Grand Prix.

We can observe the intimacy and ability Hepworth developed with various materials and how wonderfully she plays with them, piercing, making holes, creating space. The contrast of sharpness and smoothness, the depth of colours (particularly with wood), invite us to touch them, to feel it in our hands, just like she did. This tactile experience was very important for her, and she would encourage people to do it.

Six Forms on a Circle 1967, Sculpture by Barbara Hepworth
Six Forms on a Circle 1967 – Photograph by Jerry Hardman-Jones @The Hepworth Wakefield

Today two museums carry the sculptor’s legacy: The Barbara Hepworth Museum in St. Ives, which is part of Tate and the Hepworth Wakefield, in Wakefield (also her hometown).


To know more:

Watch

  • Tate shots: An introduction to Barbara Hepworth

Listen

  • BBC Sunday Feature – Podcast episode on Barbara Hepworth

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/b011cjkx

Visit

  • Barbara Hepworth website: Biography, exhibitions, news and images organized by date.

http://barbarahepworth.org.uk/

  • Google Arts & Culture: created in collaboration with Hepworth Wakefield with a virtual tour.

https://artsandculture.google.com/project/barbara-hepworth


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Have a great week!

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