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Eva Hesse Photo

Eva Hesse

German-American Sculptor

Movements and Styles: Minimalism, Post-Minimalism, Feminist Art

Born: January 11, 1936 - Hamburg, Germany

Died: May 29, 1970 - New York, New York

Eva Hesse Timeline

Quotes

"Life doesn't last; art doesn't last."
Eva Hesse
"I am interested in solving an unknown factor of art and an unknown factor of life. In fact, my idea is to counteract everything I've ever learned or been taught about those things - to find something that is inevitable that is my life, my feeling, my thoughts."
Eva Hesse
"In the forms I use in my work the contradictions are certainly there. I was always aware that I should take order versus chaos, stringy versus mass, huge versus small, and I would try to find the most absurd opposites or extreme opposites. I was always aware of their absurdity and also their formal contradictions and it was always more interesting than making something average, normal."
Eva Hesse
"I feel, let's say, emotionally connected to his work. It does something to my insides. His metal plates were the concentration camp for me." - Responding to Carl Andre's work
Eva Hesse

"I think art is a total thing. A total person giving a contribution. It is an essence, a soul.. In my inner soul art and life are inseparable."

Eva Hesse Signature

Synopsis

Eva Hesse is one of the most renowned American artists to come of age in the immediate aftermath of The Abstract Expressionists. Having fled her native Germany during the rise of Nazism, Hesse was originally schooled in American abstract painting and commercial design practices. She originally pursued a career in commercial textile design in New York City, but Hesse's practice as an expressionist painter led her to increasingly experiment with industrial and every-day, or "found" materials, such as rope, string, wire, rubber, and fiberglass. Reducing her means in the spirit of Minimalism, Hesse explored by way of the simplest materials how to suggest a wide range of organic associations, psychological moods, and what might be called proto-feminist, sexual innuendo. She also experimented with expressing semi-whimsical states of mind rarely explored in the modern era until her all-too-brief debut. Thus Hesse arrived quickly at a new kind of abstract painting, as well as a kind of so-called "eccentric," freestanding sculpture.

Key Ideas

Professionally trained as an abstract painter and commercial designer, Hesse is a paradigmatic postwar American artist, much like Ellsworth Kelly, who regarded painting not as a two-dimensional surface, but as an object on the wall to be extended into the space of the viewer before it. Mimicking the organic vulnerability of the human body itself, work by Hesse seems to take on a tentative or even ephemeral life of its own, its material density apparently enlivened by some invisible, psychological momentum.
Much of Hesse's work might be thought of as a form of poetic, three-dimensional montage, a conjoining of disparate parts culled from diverse sources and combined, or arranged in ways that suggest moments of quiet reflection on the world around us.
Hesse's life was plagued by various kinds of physical and emotional hardship, ranging from political persecution to familial illness and depression, not least of all her eventual suffering and demise from cancer. Nevertheless, Hesse boldly forged ahead and made the most of her professional circumstances, ultimately to create abstract and endlessly evocative works free of any socio-political agenda.
Hesse was among the first artists of the 1960s to experiment with the fluid contours of the organic world of nature, as well as the simplest of artistic gestures. Some observers see in these qualities latent, proto-feminist references to the female body; others find in Hesse's languid forms expressions of wit, whimsy, and a sense of spontaneous invention with casually found, or "everyday" materials - approaches that show the diversity of Post-Minimalist practice.

Biography

Eva Hesse Photo

Childhood

Eva Hesse was born into a German-Jewish family during the social and political turmoil brought about by the rise of the Nazi regime in Hamburg. Family life under the Nazis was difficult for the Hesses; Eva's father, Wilhelm, was barred from his law practice, and mother, Ruth, frequently suffered bouts of depression. Intent on keeping their children safe after the November pogrom of 1938 ("Kristallnacht"), Eva and her sister Helen were sent to a Dutch children's home. The family was later reunited in England, from where they made their way to the United States.

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Eva Hesse Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

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

Artists

Carl AndreCarl Andre
Willem de KooningWillem de Kooning
Marcel DuchampMarcel Duchamp

Personal Contacts

Sol LeWittSol LeWitt
Mel BochnerMel Bochner
Tom DoyleTom Doyle

Movements

Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism
Neo-DadaNeo-Dada
SurrealismSurrealism

Influences on Artist
Eva Hesse
Eva Hesse
Years Worked: 1960 - 1970
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Kiki SmithKiki Smith
Rachel WhitereadRachel Whiteread

Personal Contacts

Lucy LippardLucy Lippard
Briony FerBriony Fer
Sol LeWittSol LeWitt
Robert SmithsonRobert Smithson

Movements

Conceptual ArtConceptual Art
MinimalismMinimalism
Post-MinimalismPost-Minimalism

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Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

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