BARBARA HEPWORTH: TWO FORMS
The starting point is her series of Mother and Child sculptures. Hepworth repeatedly returned to this subject between 1927 and 1934, during which time she gave birth to her first son Paul Skeaping in August 1929. This was followed by the birth of her triplets Simon, Rachel and Sarah Hepworth-Nicholson in October 1934.
She was not alone in exploring this subject matter. Several British artists working in the 1920s and ‘30s, including Henry Moore (1898-1986) and Jacob Epstein (1880-1959), also made sculptures depicting maternity. The subject held artistic and political significance as the sign of a newfound intimacy in art, and as an expression of vitality in the wake of the First World War and the approach of the Second World War.
By 1935 Hepworth's work had, as she wrote later, 'changed direction although the only fresh influence had been the arrival of the children. The work was more formal and all traces of naturalism had disappeared, and for some years I was absorbed in the relationships in space, in size and texture and weight, as well as in the tensions between the two forms.'
The clear subject matter of a mother and child, carved in stone or wood, disappeared from her work. In its place came pure and simple abstract forms that are not merely experiments but express what she called 'a spiritual vitality or inner life'.
This display includes sculpture from the Wakefield Collection and private lenders. The photographs were mainly taken by Paul Laib, a professional photographer. They show many of Hepworth's sculptures that relate to the themes of this display and include works that have been lost or were destroyed during the Second World War.
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