Tate Modern Level 4
13 November 2002 – 9 March 2003
During a tragically short artistic career, Eva Hesse (1936-1970) pushed the boundaries of painting and sculpture to new limits. This wide-ranging exhibition is the largest ever of Hesse’s work, at a time when she is being recognised as one of the most important sculptors of the late twentieth century. The exhibition features over 130 of her works including the majority of her major sculptures, paintings and works on paper. Many of the works have not been seen in the UK, and due to the fragility of Hesse’s work, this is a unique opportunity to see works that rarely travel.
Hesse worked with a broad range of traditional and non-traditional media, and continually blurred the edges between her processes and materials, pushing both to their extremes. In all of her works, the artist explored the tensions between order and chaos, rigidity and pliability, geometric and biometric form, series and singularity and continuity and change. Associated with both the conceptual and minimalist movements of the 1960s and 1970s, Hesse’s primary interests lay in the organic, the absurd and the irrational. Among the works included in the exhibition are Hesse’s early sculptures Untitled or Not Yet, 1966 and Hang Up, 1966 that embody the essence of her oeuvre: the use of non-traditional materials and the exploration of the boundaries of sculpture and painting.
Eva Hesse died of a brain tumour in 1970 at the age of thirty four, and her brief life and exceptional work have given her an almost mythic status in the art world. She was born in Hamburg in 1936, and in 1938 her family escaped Nazi persecution by fleeing to Holland, eventually making their way to London, and later in 1939 to New York. She studied at the Pratt Institute of Design from 1952 to 1953 and Cooper Union from 1954 to 1957. From 1957 to 1959 she attended Yale School of Art and Architecture, where she received her B.F.A studying under Josef Albers. Her career as a sculptor developed during the 1960s and her work became known for its unusual materials including string, resin and latex which she used to make sculptures that explored the expressive possibilities of abstract form and themes of sexuality. Since her first posthumous retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 1972, her work has been acquired by major museums and collections around the world. She has strongly influenced younger artists both in her work and as a role model.
The exhibition is co-organised by freelance curator Elisabeth Sussmann for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Dr Renate Petzinger for Museum Wiesbaden, Germany. The exhibition will be curated by Sheena Wagstaff for its London showing. The catalogue contains essays by Briony Fer, James Meyer, Renate Petzinger, Elisabeth Sussman, Ann Temkin and Gioia Timpanelli as well as full catalogue entries, exhibition history and a bibliography (hb price £45 and pb only available in Tate Shops price £25). Encountering Eve Hesse, a major day and a half conference, will take place on 14 and 15 November.
Open: Sun - Thurs 10.15 - 18.00 Fri & Sat 10.15 - 22.00
Press View: 11 November 10.30 - 13.00