Eva Hess, No title, 1960. 91.4 x 91.4 cm. Oil on canvas. The Rachofsky Collection

Eva Hesse's Spectres, Foreshadowing Eva Hesse's Studiowork

Eva Hesse, Untitled, 1960, Oil on canvas. 20 x 20". Verso on upper stretcher "August 1960 eva hesse Top." On lower stretcher "eva hesse 1960." Private collection, New York. Courtesy Hauser & Wirth.

Eva Hesse, Untitled, 1960, Oil on canvas. 49 14 x 49 1/4". Ursula Hauser Collection, Switzerland.

Eva Hesse, Untitled, 1960, Oil on canvas. 49-1/4 x 49-1/4". Alexandra Charish, Los Angeles.

Eva Hesse, Untitled, 1960, Oil on canvas. 18 x 16". Ursula Hauser Collection, Switzerland.

 

 

Hammer Museum
10899 Wilshire Boulevard
310-443-7000
Los Angeles
Gallery II
Eva Hesse Spectres 1960
September 25, 2010-January 2, 2011

Eva Hesse Spectres 1960, an exhibition of seminal and rarely seen paintings by legendary artist Eva Hesse (1936-1970) was created when Hesse was just 24. These 19 semi-representational oil paintings stand in contrast to later minimalist structures and sculptural assemblages, yet constitutes a vital link in the progression of her work. Several recent museum exhibitions on Hesse’s work have featured a few of these paintings from 1960, but none have considered these works as a group. This timely reassessment of Hesse’s career furthers an understanding of her artistic contributions.

Organized by E. Luanne McKinnon, Director of the University of New Mexico Art Museum, Albuquerque, the exhibition focuses on what McKinnon terms Hesse’s “spectre” paintings for their haunted interiority and attempt to embody emotional states in abstract form. There are two distinct groups within this spectre painting series. In the first, the figures in these intimately scaled (approx. 9 x 12 in.) paintings are gaunt, loosely rendered, standing or dancing in groups of two or three yet disconnected. The second group presents both odd, alien-like creatures and depictions that resemble the artist herself, in traditional easel-size scale (approximately 32 x 42 inches).

The exhibition considers these semi-representational and evocative works not merely as self-portraits per se, but as states of consciousness, and thereby open a dialogue about Hesse and her aspirations against a diaristic account of nightmares and visions that remained constant throughout her life. As McKinnon notes, “Looking inwardly and outwardly and with paint as her guide, she began to paint herself out and away and ahead … The procession of paintings under examination here represents a rupture that, once completed (not as a formal solution but rather as a psychological denouement), settled back into solving the problems presented in abstraction, eventually evolving into the constructions that Hesse is lauded for.” Against a body of commentary suggesting these particular works are abject exercises of self-deprecation, Eva Hesse Spectres 1960 examines them as testimonies to private anxiety. This exhibition aims to further understanding the development of Hesse’s artistic voice and contribution, as the spectre paintings demand an historical reconsideration of when Hesse became "Hesse."
 
Born in Hamburg in 1936, Eva Hesse and her family fled in 1938 to escape the fate of Germany’s Jews and settled in New York City. She was determined to be an artist from an early age, striving at first to be a painter. She began to create startlingly original configurations that exploited the properties of cheesecloth, rubber, plastic, tubing, cloth, and other materials. Hesse achieved a level of success attained by few women of the time. By 1963 she had had her first one-woman show; by 1968 she had gallery representation. She died in 1970 of a brain tumor. Two years after her untimely death, the Guggenheim Museum held a retrospective of her work—the first such exhibition organized around a woman.

Eva Hesse, Untitled, 1960, Oil on canvas. 18 x 15". The Museum of Modern Art, New York, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Murray Charash.

Eva Hesse, Untitled, 1960, Oil on Masonite. 15-1/4 x 12". Verso in ballpoint pen 'p-e'. The Estate of Eva Hesse, courtesy of Hauser & Wirth.

Eva Hesse, Untitled, 1960, Oil on Masonite. 15-3/4 x 12"". Verso in ballpoint pen 'p-a', white 'x' in oil. The Estate of Eva Hesse, courtesy Hauser & Wirth.

Eva Hesse (American, born Germany, 1936-1970). No title, 1960. Oil on canvas. 91.44 x 91.44 cm. Collection of Barbara Bluhm-Kaul and Don Kaul, Chicago, Illinois, USA.

 

Eva Hesse, Inside I, 1967, Acrylic, papier-mâché, wood, cord, wire, 30.5 x 30.5 x 30.5 cm, interior object: 7 x 21.5 x 23 cm.

Eva Hesse, No title, 1969, Papier-caché, 26.5 x 28.5 x 6.6 cm.

Eva Hesse's Prototypes Find a Defined Place in Her Oeuvre

Eva Hesse, No title, 1969, Papier-caché, 38.6 x 20.9 x 11.4 cm.

Eva Hesse, No title, 1969, Papier-caché, 39.3 x 37.4 x 14.5 cm.

Eva Hesse, No title, 1969, Cheesecloth, adhesive, 36.2 x 30.4 x 8.5 cm.

Eva Hesse, No title, 1969, Papier-caché, 25.6 x 23.1 x 5.8 cm.

 

Hauser & Wirth New York
32 East 69th Street
+1 212 794 4970
New York
EVA HESSE
March 16-April 24, 2010

In 1969, one year before her death at the age of 34, German-born American artist Eva Hesse wrote of her desire “to get to non-art, non-connotive, non-anthropomorphic, non-geometric, non-nothing; everything … It’s not the new, it is what is yet not known, thought, seen, touched; but really what is not and that is.” In her effort to make works that could transcend literal associations, Hesse cultivated mistakes and surprise, precariousness and enigma. The objects she produced, at once humble and enormously charismatic, played a central role in transforming contemporary art practice.

Hauser & Wirth New York opens an exhibition of such objects: EVA HESSE brings together 14 works, many never before shown in the United States, that have been considered improvisational "test pieces" for larger sculptures. Of these, eleven are delicate papier caché forms — wisps of assembled paper, tape, cheesecloth and adhesive made between 1966 and 1969 — that are neither round nor rectangular, but indeterminate. Intimate manifestations of the artist’s thought process, they evoke the bodily, suggesting fragments of skull, sheaths of timeworn parchment, tablets awaiting manuscript, curving shadows, the lens of an eyeball. These objects evade easy definition: They have been seen variously as experiments, little pieces, molds, tests for larger works, or finished works in their own right. In her recent research on Hesse’s work, prominent British art historian Briony Fer has renamed these objects collectively as "studioworks," proposing that their precarious nature places them at the very heart of Hesse’s influential practice and raises important questions about traditional notions of what constitutes sculpture.

EVA HESSE presents its contents upon a plinth that loosely alludes to how these works may have been encountered in Hesse’s studio, temporarily arranged in groups on the artist’s work table, always subject to change. The objects in this exhibition is included in the museum survey Eva Hesse: Studioworks at Fundació Antoni Tapies in Barcelona (May 14-August 1, 2010), the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto (September 10, 2010-January 2, 2011), and the Berkeley Art Museum in California (January 26-April 24, 2011).

In New York in the 1960s, Hesse was among a group of artists, including Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, Richard Serra and Robert Smithson, who engaged materials that were originally soft and flexible: aluminum, latex rubber, plastic, lead, polythene, copper, felt, chicken-wire, dirt, sawdust, paper pulp and glue. Often unstable, these elements yielded works forever alive in their relativity and mutability. Hesse was aware she produced objects that were ephemeral, but this problem was of less concern to her than the desire to exploit materials with a temporal dimension. Much of the tumescent, life-affirming power of Hesse’s art derives from this confident embrace of moment. As she stated in an interview with Cindy Nemser in 1970, “Life doesn’t last; art doesn’t last.”

Eva Hesse, No title, 1969, Papier-caché, 52.7 x 19 x 13.8 cm.

Photo of Eva Hesse holding Ingeminate, 1965.

Eva Hesse, No title, 1969, Papier-caché, 15.5 x 15.3 x 8.3 cm.

 

Eva Hesse, Inside II, 1967, Acrylic, papier-mâché, sawdust, wood, cord, metal, paper, 13.5 x 18.5 x 18.7 cm.

 

Eva Hesse, Accession II, 1967, galvanized steel, plastic tubing

Eva Hesse, Legs of a walking ball, May 1965, paint, cord, papier-maché, metal on masonite.

Eva Hesse's Lifetime of Large, Small, and Undefined Works

Eva Hesse, S-89, Test Piece for Repetition Nineteen II. Latex, cotton, rubber. Courtesy Florette and Ronald Lynn, New Jersey, 1967.

Eva Hesse, S-105. Fibreglass, polyester resin, plastic. Courtesy University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. Gift of Mrs Helen Charash, 1968.

Eva Hesse, Ingeminate, November 1965, papier-mach, cord, enamel over balloons, surgical hose.

Photo of Eva Hesse holding Ingeminate, 1965.

 

Camden Arts Centre
Arkwright Road
+44 (0)20 7472 5500
London
Eva Hesse: Studiowork
December 11, 2009-
March 7, 2010

Throughout her career, Eva Hesse produced a large number of small, experimental works alongside her large-scale sculpture. These objects, so-called test pieces, were made in a wide range of materials, including latex, wire-mesh, sculp-metal, wax and cheesecloth. Left in her studio at the time of her death, sold or given to friends during her lifetime, these objects evade easy definition, seen variously as experiments, little pieces, moulds, tests or finished pieces.

A solo presentation of the work of German-born American artist Eva Hesse (1936-1970), a major figure in post-war art. The exhibition is the result of new research by renowned Hesse scholar Professor Briony Fer and is curated by Fer and Barry Rosen, Director of The Estate of Eva Hesse.

In her recent research on Hesse’s work, Briony Fer collectively renamed these objects as studioworks, proposing that their precarious nature places them at the heart of Hesse’s work and questions traditional notions of what sculpture is.

This exhibition brings together around fifty works drawn from major public and private collections around the world, showing works which are extremely fragile and rarely travel. The exhibition and the accompanying major publication offer a timely new interpretation of Hesse’s historical position, as well as highlighting her relevance for contemporary art now.

Eva Hesse (January 11, 1936-May 29, 1970), a German-born American sculptor, known for her pioneering work in materials such as latex, fiberglass, and plastics, was born into a family of observant Jews in Hamburg, Germany. When Hesse was two years old, her parents, hoping to flee from Nazi Germany, sent Eva and her older sister to the Netherlands. She and her sister were separated from their parents for a few months before they were reunited. After living in England for a while, the family emigrated to New York City in 1939. They settled in Manhattan's Washington Heights.

After graduating from New York's School of Industrial Art in 1952, Hesse studied at New York's Pratt Institute (1952-1953) and Cooper Union (1954-1957), then at the Yale School of Art and Architecture (1957-1959), where she studied under Josef Albers and received a B.F.A. On returning to New York she made friends with many young artists. In 1961, she met and married fellow sculptor Tom Doyle. In August 1962 Eva Hesse and Tom Doyle participated in an Allan Kaprow Happening at the Art Students League of New York in Woodstock, New York. There Hesse made her first three dimensional piece: a costume for the Happening. In 1963 Eva Hesse had a one-person show of works on paper at the Allan Stone Gallery on New York's Upper East Side.

The couple — whose marriage was coming apart — lived and worked in an abandoned textile mill in the Ruhr region of Germany for about a year during 1964-1965. Hesse was not happy to be back in Germany, but began sculpting with materials that had been left behind in the abandoned factory: first relief sculptures made of cloth-covered cord, electrical wire, and masonite, with playful titles like Eighter from Decatur and Oomamaboomba. Returning to New York City in 1965 she began working in the materials that would become characteristic of her work: latex, fiberglass, and plastics.

She was associated with the mid-1960s postminimal anti-form trend in sculpture, participating in New York exhibits such as Eccentric Abstraction and Abstract Inflationism and Stuffed Expressionism (both 1966). In September 1968 she began teaching at the School of Visual Arts. Her only one-person show of sculpture in her lifetime was Chain Polymers at the Fischbach Gallery on W. 57th Street in New York in November 1968; her large piece Expanded Expansion showed at the Whitney Museum in the 1969 exhibit Anti-Illusion: Process/Materials. There have been dozens of major posthumous exhibitions in the United States and Europe, including at The Guggenheim Museum (1972, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2002), The Drawing Center in New York (2006) and the Jewish Museum of New York (2006).

Except for fiberglass, most of her favored materials age badly, so much of her work presents conservators with an enormous challenge. Arthur Danto, writing of the Jewish Museum's 2006 retrospective, refers to "the discolorations, the slackness in the membrane-like latex, the palpable aging of the material… Yet somehow the work does not feel tragic. Instead it is full of life, of eros, even of comedy… Each piece in the show vibrates with originality and mischief."

In 1969 she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Her death in 1970 ended a career spanning only ten years.

"The joy and freedom of Hesse’s art is staggering. Any young artist could get an education just by coming to this show a few times."

— Jonathan Jones, The Guardian

Eva Hesse: Studiowork is organised by The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh in collaboration with Camden Arts Centre, London; Fundacio Antoni Tapies, Barcelona; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto and Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.

The exhibition is supported by The Foyle Foundation, Columbia Foundation, Mike Davies Charitable Settlement and Brian Boylan.

Eva Hesse, Repetition Nineteen III, 1968, fiberglass and polyester.