Barbara Hepworth: Art and Life. An important new retrospective in Wakefield opening in May.

Art in the U.K. is to soon to become accessible once more. As we approach an opening up of art galleries, museums and other centres again, I am starting to make my travel plans. Very near the top of the list, if not my first aspiration is to return to Wakefield to visit what could be the most important exhibition of the year.

Barbara Hepworth: Art and Life opens in Wakefield from May 21st and runs until February 2022. I will save my critical review until after my visit but it promises to be the “ most expansive exhibition of Barbara Hepworth’s work in the UK since the artist’s death in 1975”. 

Installation view of Barbara Hepworth, Orpheus, 1956. Photographed at The Hepworth Wakefield, March 2020. Photo: Lewis Ronald

Eleanor Clayton, the curator goes on to say “Barbara Hepworth is one of the most important artists of the 20th century, with a unique artistic vision that demands to be looked at in depth.” Having studied Hepworth myself I understand her spiritual approach to sculpture and how she contributed to the U.K. art scene becoming the leading pre war vanguard of modernism. Her art dominated the mid twentieth century.

Barbara Hepworth. Spring, 1966 (c) Bowness. Photography: Jerry Hardman-Jones
Barbara Hepworth. Spring, 1966 (c) Bowness. Photography: Jerry Hardman-Jones

Hepworth’s work is deeply spiritual and passionately engaged with political, social and technological debates in the 20th century, Like so many artists her ideas cross over into music, dance and theatre

Her political values were encapsulated in the monumental Single Form, commissioned for the United Nations in 1964, of which she declared, ‘The United Nations is our conscience. If it succeeds it is our success. If it fails it is our failure.’ Rare footage of Hepworth’s speaking at the unveiling of this work will be included in the exhibition. Single Form outside the UN Building in New York, was probably her most acclaimed international work

Barbara Hepworth at work on the plaster for Single Form, January 1962, at the Morris Singer foundry. Photograph by Morgan-Wells. © Bowness, Hepworth Estateu

The Hepworth Wakefield, as those regulars to this blog will know, is my favourite twenty first century gallery, celebrating the City’s famous daughter. Designed by David Chipperfield, the Hepworth Wakefield is set within the historic waterfront, overlooking the River Calder. The gallery opened in May 2011 and was awarded Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017. The gallery presents major exhibitions of the best international modern and contemporary art.

Thames & Hudson will publish Barbara Hepworth: Art & Life by Eleanor Clayton.  This illustrated biography will introduce new insights into Hepworth’s life, work and legacy, as well as bringing together Hepworth’s public statements with previously unpublished private correspondence.

Barbara Hepworth, Curved Forms (Pavan), 1956. Impregnated plaster, painted, on an aluminium armature 52 x 80 x 48.5 cm Presented by the artist’s daughters, Rachel Kidd and Sarah Bowness, through the Trustees of the Barbara Hepworth Estate and the Art Fund © Bowness. Photo: Jerry Hardman-Jones
Barbara Hepworth, Curved Forms (Pavan), 1956. Impregnated plaster, painted, on an aluminium armature 52 x 80 x 48.5 cm Presented by the artist’s daughters, Rachel Kidd and Sarah Bowness, through the Trustees of the Barbara Hepworth Estate and the Art Fund © Bowness. Photo: Jerry Hardman-Jones

images and quotes courtesy of Hepworth Wakefield Press Office

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Susie says:

    Great post Gordon so looking forward to our next visit – love Barbara Hepworth especially the sculptures with strings

    Like

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