Dame Barbara Hepworth Makutu 1969, cast 1970

Artwork details

Artist
Title
Makutu
Date 1969, cast 1970
Medium Bronze
Dimensions Object: 673 x 248 x 248 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Presented by the executors of the artist's estate 1980
Reference
T03151

Catalogue entry

Dame Barbara Hepworth 1903-1975

T03151 Makutu 1969, cast 1970

BH 505; cast 0/9

Bronze 675 x 245 x 243 (26 5/8 x 9 5/8 x 9 1/2) on bronze base 80 x 380 x 380 (3 1/8 x 15 x 15)

Cast inscription on top of base 'Barbara Hepworth | 1969 CAST 1970 0/9' r. and on back of base 'Morris | Singer | FOUNDERS | LONDON' t.l.

Presented by the executors of the artist's estate, in accordance with her wishes 1980

Exhibited (ý = unidentified cast, ü = other cast):
Autumn Exhibition 1970, Penwith Gallery, St Ives, Sept.-Oct. 1970 (sculpture 2ý)
Winter Exhibition 1970-1, Penwith Gallery, St Ives, Dec. 1970 - Feb. 1971 (sculpture 2ý)
Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture and Lithographs, AC tour 1970-71, National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, Sept.-Oct., Ede Gallery, Cambridge, Oct.-Nov., Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne, Nov.-Dec, Southampton Art Gallery, Dec. 1970-Jan. 1971 (not in cat.ü)
Barbara Hepworth, Gimpel Gallery, New York, March-April 1971 (22ý, repr.)
St Ives Group 3rd Exhibition, Austin Reed Gallery, Aug. 1971 (2ý)
Barbara Hepworth: A Selecton of Small Bronzes and Prints, Scottish Arts Council tour, Scottish College of Textiles, Galashiels, April-May 1978, Inverness Museum and Art Gallery, June, Dundee Museum and Art Gallery, Sept., Lillie Art Gallery, Milngavie, Sept.-Oct., Hawick Museum and Art Gallery, Oct.-Nov., Maclaurin Art Gallery, Ayr, Nov.-Dec. 1978 (26ý)
Barbara Hepworth, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Bretton Hall, July-Oct., 1980 (25ý, repr. p.28)
Barbara Hepworth: A Sculptor's Landscape 1934-79, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery and Museum, Swansea, Oct.-Nov. 1982, Bangor Art Gallery, Nov.-Dec., Wrexham Library Art Centre, Dec. 1982-Jan. 1983, Manx Museum, Isle of Man, Feb. 1983 (26ý)

Literature:
Alan Bowness (ed.), The Complete Sculpture of Barbara Hepworth 1960-69, 1971, p.50, no.499
Tate Gallery Acquisitions 1980-2, 1984, p.123-4, repr.
W.J. Strachan, Open Air Sculpture in Britain: A Comprehensive Guide, 1984, p.78, no.141, repr. p.79

Reproduced:
David Fraser Jenkins, Barbara Hepworth: A Guide to the Tate Gallery Collection at London and St Ives, Cornwall, 1982, p.40

Displayed in the artist's garden, Barbara Hepworth Museum, St Ives

Cast from an original carving in lignum vitae of the same name (BH 499, Barbara Hepworth Estate, repr. Bowness 1971, p.50), Makutu takes its title from Maori. According to an earlier Tate Gallery catalogue entry, the word means 'to bewitch; a spell or incantation; and also a variety of sweet potato' (Tate Gallery Acquisitions 1980-2, p.123). It is probable that Hepworth would have chosen it for the more abstract and mysterious definitions. In 1966 she had given a slate carving the title Two Forms (Maori) (BH 405, Barbara Hepworth estate, repr. Bowness 1971, pl.117). In answer to an enquiry from a Tate curator, Alan Bowness, the artist's executor, suggested that the title Makutu might have been taken from a book that was sent to the artist and was now in his own collection. 'Finding names was often a bit of a problem', he explained (questionnaire, 28 Sept. 1983, Tate Gallery cataloguing files). The title's allusion to magic and mystery may be compared to a metaphysical quality suggested by many of Hepworth's works. Several titles include references to religious themes - Christian, non-Christian and pagan - and to ritualistic activity in general, such as Three Forms Vertical (Offering), 1967 (BH 452, Gimpel Fils, repr. Bowness 1971, pl.169) and three separate works with the sub-title 'amulet', meaning a charm.

The hollow cast bronze is typical of Hepworth's work in a number of ways. Its basic form is that of the original log with the edges rounded. It is pierced once and, while the exterior is dark bronze, the internal surfaces have a pale green patination that becomes heavier towards the bottom. The hole narrows to a tilted, more regular oval shape at the back. After its acquisition by the Tate, the sculpture was cleaned of marks resulting from its display out of doors, such as bird lime, and wax-polished. The original bolts holding it to the base were replaced with stainless steel (Tate Gallery conservation files).

Other casts of Makutu (2/9) are in the collections of the Midtown Gallery, Atlanta and of the Morris Singer Sculpture Association (4/9).

Chris Stephens
March 1998


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