Barbara Hepworth was born in Wakefield and attended Leeds College of Art before moving to the Royal College of Art, London, studying there at the same time as Henry Moore.
Together with Moore, Hepworth is most celebrated for her adherence to direct carving, whereby much of the sculpture's form is decided as it is produced, rather than beforehand in drawings and models. The technique is seen to good effect in this work, carved in Ancaster stone, and dating from 1953.
One of her most prestigious works is Dag Hammarskjöld, at the United Nations building in New York City.
Notes from: Wakefield Metropolitan District Council.
Barbara Hepworth was born in Wakefield on 10 January 1903. Her father, Herbert Hepworth, became Assistant County Surveyor and an Alderman of the City.
She trained in sculpture at Leeds School of Art (1920-1) and then at the Royal College of Art (1921-4).
Along with Henry Moore and Ben Nicholson (whom she married), she was at the centre of a group of artists who created a revolutionary new approach to European abstract sculpture in the 1930s.
Her use of abstract, negative space, epitomised by her 1937 alabaster work Pierced Hemisphere, in which a hole was carved through the centre of the sculpture inaugurated one of the most important formal features of her, and also Henry Moore's subsequent, work.
Not only was she pioneering work in sculpture but she was also experimenting with collage, photograms and prints.
During the Second World War she evacuated to St. Ives in Cornwall where she set up a studio forming a focus in 1949 for the establishment of the Penwith Society of Artists with Nicholson, Peter Lanyon and others, and helping to attract international attention to the group's exhibitions.
Barbara Hepworth received numerous public commissions, (in 1964, Single Form was erected outside the United Nations building, New York as a memorial to the Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjöld), and awards throughout her career (including the Grand Prix at the Sâo Paulo Bienal in 1959).
She became a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1965.
After a long battle with cancer, she died in a fire at her St Ives home on 20 May 1975. The studio was subsequently designated the Barbara Hepworth Museum in the following year and come under the control of the Tate Gallery in 1980.
The Hepworth, Wakefield
The Hepworth, Wakefield will be a major new gallery on Wakefield's historic waterfront which will replace Wakefield's current Art Gallery.
It will feature the unique collection of Barbara Hepworth's original plaster sculptures, Wakefield's most important art collections and a range of inspiring and creative activities will be on offer.
At the centre of the gallery will be the unique collection of 30 original plasters used by Wakefield born Dame Barbara Hepworth when casting her bronze sculptures, donated by the Hepworth family trust.
The Hepworth, Wakefield will also feature Wakefield Art Gallery's outstanding collection of works by Barbara Hepworth and other major 20th century British artists, including Anthony Caro, Ben Nicholson, LS Lowry and Henry Moore. There will also be an innovative programme of inspiring and creative exhibitions, arts, educational and learning events.
The Hepworth, Wakefield, is being developed by Wakefield Council and is part of the £100 million mixed-use Waterfront Regeneration Scheme. The 5,000 sq m (50,000 sq ft) new gallery will be a dynamic and regionally important cultural venue and will play a significant role in the Urban Renaissance of Wakefield.
The project has secured funding from the Arts Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Article By: Dave Roberts.
First Published: 2007.
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