Exposition Art Blog: Eva Hesse

Eva Hesse

Eva Hesse (January 11, 1936 – May 29, 1970), was a Jewish German-born American sculptor, known for her pioneering work in materials such as latex, fiberglass, and plastics. She is one of the artists who ushered in the postminimal art movement in the 1960s.Hesse was born into a family of observant Jews in Hamburg, Germany, on January 11, 1936.When Hesse was two years old in December 1938, her parents, hoping to flee from Nazi Germany, sent Hesse and her older sister, Helen Hesse Charash, to the Netherlands via Kindertransport.After almost six months of separation, the reunited family moved to England and then, in 1939, emigrated to New York City,where they settled into Manhattan's Washington Heights. In 1944, Hesse's parents separated; her father remarried in 1945 and her mother committed suicide in 1946. In 1962, she met and married sculptor Tom Doyle; they divorced in 1966. In October 1969, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and she died on Friday, May 29, 1970. Her death, after three operations within a year,at age 34 ended a career spanning only 10 years.

Hesse's early work (1960–65) consisted of abstract drawings and paintings. She is most well known for her sculptures and because of this, her drawings are often regarded as preliminary steps to her later work.However, Hesse created her drawings as a separate body of work. She states, "They were related because they were mine but they weren’t related in one completing the other."
Hesse’s interest in latex as a medium for sculptural forms had to do with immediacy. Keats states, "immediacy may be one of the prime reasons Hesse was attracted to latex". Hesse’s first two works using latex, Schema and Sequel (1967–68) use latex in a way never imagined by the manufacturer. "Industrial latex was meant for casting. Hesse handled it like house paint, brushing layer upon layer to build up a surface that was smooth yet irregular, ragged at the edges like deckled paper." 

 Hesse's work often employs multiple forms of similar shape organized together in grid structures or clusters. Retaining some of the defining forms of minimalism, modularity, and unconventional materials, she created eccentric work that was repetitive and labor-intensive. In a statement of her work, Eva describes her piece titled Hang-Up, "It was the first time my idea of absurdity or extreme feeling came through...The whole thing is absolutely rigid, neat cord around the entire thing . . . It is extreme and that is why I like it and don't like it . . . It is the most ridiculous structure that I ever made and that is why it is really good"Wikipedia

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