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Artists Barbara Hepworth
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Barbara Hepworth

British Sculptor

Movements and Styles: Surrealism, Modern Sculpture

Born: January 10, 1903 - Wakefield, Yorkshire, UK

Died: May 20, 1975 - St Ives, Cornwall, UK

Barbara Hepworth Timeline

Quotes

"If a pebble or an egg can be enjoyed for the sake of its shape only, it is one step towards a true appreciation of sculpture. A tree trunk, with its changing axis, swellings and varied sections, fully understood, takes us a step further. Then finally it is realized that abstract form, the relation of masses and planes, is that which gives sculptural life; this, then, admits that a piece of sculpture can be purely abstract or non-representational."
Barbara Hepworth
"The sculptor carves because he must. He needs the concrete form of stone and wood for the expression of his idea and experience, and when the idea forms the material is found at once."
Barbara Hepworth
"Carving is interrelated masses conveying an emotion; a perfect relationship between the mind and the color, light and weight which is the stone, made by the hand which feels."
Barbara Hepworth
"'Abstract' is a word which is now most frequently used to express only the type of the outer form of a work of art; this makes it difficult to use it in relation to the spiritual vitality or inner life which is the real sculpture. Abstract sculptural qualities are found in good sculpture of all time, but it is significant that contemporary sculpture and painting have become abstract in thought and concept."
Barbara Hepworth
"No militant feminist herself, she asked simply to be treated as a sculptor (never a sculptress), irrespective of sex."
Alan Bowness
"In these works this brave and indefatigable woman transcends the difficulties and ugliness of modern life and evokes a vision of radiant calm perfection."
Herbert Read

"Carving to me is more interesting than modeling, because there is an unlimited variety of materials from which to draw inspiration."

Barbara Hepworth Signature

Synopsis

Barbara Hepworth distinguished herself as a world-recognized sculptor in a period where female artists were rare. She evolved her ideas and her work as an influential part of an ongoing conversation with many other important artists of her time, working crucially in areas of greater abstraction while creating three dimensional objects. Her development of sculptural vocabularies and ideas was complex and multi-faceted. This included the use of a wide range of physical materials for sculpting and an unprecedented sensitivity to the particular qualities of those materials in helping decide the ultimate results of her sculptures, the investigation of "absence" in sculpture as much as "presence," and deep considerations of the relationship of her sculptural forms to the larger spaces surrounding it. Though her forms in their larger outlines tended to possess the clean lines of modernist aesthetics, she complicated these with different textures, an effect described by one reviewer as "sensuous and tactile" that "quickened the pulse".

Key Ideas

She helped shift three dimensional art works into greater abstraction as she herself moved from creating work mingling figurative forms with abstraction in her earlier sculptures to almost entirely abstract, non-representational later works.
Hepworth was a key figure among modern sculptors in responding to the physical characteristics of whichever material was chosen to work with in order to resolve appropriate forms for the finished works, rather than simply mold material to fit some pre-determined shape.
Though she developed a long series of highly abstract pieces, the greater trajectory of her work was imbued with underlying aspects of nature, which she brought out more explicitly in the sculptures of her later career. "All my sculpture comes out of landscape," she wrote in 1943. "I'm sick of sculptures in galleries & photos with flat backgrounds... no sculpture really lives until it goes back to the landscape, the trees, air & clouds."

Biography

Barbara Hepworth Photo

Childhood and Education

Hepworth was the eldest child of Gertrude and Herbert Hepworth, a civil engineer. She would frequently accompany her father on car trips round the Yorkshire countryside, and she spent summer holidays at Robin Hood's Bay, also in Yorkshire. This early connection with rural settings was to influence much of her work. After attending the Wakefield Girls' High School, she won a scholarship to study at Leeds School of Art in 1920.

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Barbara Hepworth Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Barbara Hepworth
Interactive chart with Barbara Hepworth's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Ben NicholsonBen Nicholson
Piet MondrianPiet Mondrian
Constantin Brâncu?iConstantin Brâncu?i
Hans ArpHans Arp

Personal Contacts

Henry MooreHenry Moore
Ben NicholsonBen Nicholson

Movements

SurrealismSurrealism
Primitivism in ArtPrimitivism in Art

Influences on Artist
Barbara Hepworth
Barbara Hepworth
Years Worked: 1920s-1970s
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Tracey EminTracey Emin
Eduardo PaolozziEduardo Paolozzi
Anthony CaroAnthony Caro

Personal Contacts

Herbert ReadHerbert Read
Henry MooreHenry Moore
Ben NicholsonBen Nicholson

Movements

Modern SculptureModern Sculpture

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Content compiled and written by Anna Souter

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Anna Souter
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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