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English sculptor Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975) was one of the most outstanding female artists of the 20th century. Her smooth, massive sculptures invite their audiences to engage with and even touch them, and they stand as icons of the modern movement. But although a figure of international standing, Hepworth never achieved the same degree of recognition in her lifetime as male contemporaries Henry Moore or Ben Nicholson (her husband of nearly 20 years).
Travel to the coastal English town of St Ives, where Hepworth lived and worked until her death in 1975, where many of her sculptures were created and where they continue to stand in the environment they were intended for. If you could see one, how would you interact with a Hepworth sculpture?
Explore the work and archives of Barbara Hepworth, and learn more about the artist here.
Want to join the conversation?
- Wouldn't touching the works (tempting as it may be :-)) damage her art over time?(6 votes)
- Absolutely, years of touching would definitely have an effect on a sculpture -- you can see this with popular statues that are said to bring good luck when you touch them, and how parts of them have been rubbed down to a shine.
Fortunately Barbara Hepworth had this in mind, particularly when making her outdoor sculptures. She cast them in bronze, a material that weathers and changes according to how and where it is touched. For Hepworth, this was a big part of the process and aims of her work, even if it had a visible effect on her sculptures. In her own words:
"One of the things that pleased me most after my recent show … was to observe how much the pieces had been touched by visitors to the exhibition. I could tell by the marks on them just where, and how they had been touched, felt, caressed. Their hands had followed the main rhythms and movements of the forms."
There's more about Hepworth here: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/dame-barbara-hepworth-1274(14 votes)