Dame Barbara Hepworth Six Forms (2 x 3) 1968

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Artwork details

Artist
Title
Six Forms (2 x 3)
Date 1968
Medium Bronze
Dimensions Object: 576 x 875 x 438 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Presented by the executors of the artist's estate 1980
Reference
T03147

Catalogue entry

Dame Barbara Hepworth 1903-1975

T03147 Six Forms (2 x 3) 1968

BH 467; cast 7/9

Bronze on integral bronze base 576 x 875 x 438 (22 5/8 x 34 3/4 x 17 1/4)

Inscribed on top face of base 'Barbara Hepworth 1968 7/9' left hand rear corner and stamped on back face 'Morris | Singer | FOUNDERS | LONDON' t.r.

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

Exhibited (ý = unidentified cast, ü = other cast):
Exhibition on the Occasion of the Conferment of the Honorary Freedom of the Borough of St Ives on Bernard Leach and Barbara Hepworth, Guildhall, Sept. 1968 (no cat.ü)
Barbara Hepworth, Gimpel Gallery, New York, April-May 1969 (9ý, repr.)
A Selection of 20th Century British Art, Cunard-Marlborough London Gallery on board Queen Elizabeth II, May 1969 (no numberý, repr. in col.)
St Ives Group, Widcombe Manor, Bath, 1969 (no cat.ý)
Winter Exhibition 1969, Penwith Gallery, St Ives, Oct.-Dec. 1969 (sculpture 4ý)
Barbara Hepworth: Recent Work, Sculpture, Paintings, Prints, Marlborough Fine Art, Feb.-March 1970 (13ý, repr.)
Barbara Hepworth, Plymouth City Art Gallery, June-Aug. 1970 (51, repr.)
Barbara Hepworth Exhibition, 1970, Hakone Open-Air Museum, Japan, June-Sept. 1970, (28ü, repr.)
Ten Sculptors - Two Cathedrals, The Cathedral Close, Winchester, July-Aug. 1970, The Cathedral Close, Salisbury, Aug.-Sept. (no numberü)
Barbara Hepworth, University of Texas Art Museum, Austin, Sept. 1971 (2ý)
The Artist and the Book in France from Matisse to Vasarely and Barbara Hepworth Sculpture and Lithographs, New Metropole Arts Centre, Folkestone, Dec. 1974-Feb. 1975 (2ý, repr.)
Barbara Hepworth: A Selection 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 (22ý)
Barbara Hepworth: Carvings and Bronzes, Marlborough Gallery and Marlborough Gallery, New York, May-June 1979 (32, repr. p.29)
Barbara Hepworth, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Bretton Hall, July-Oct., 1980 (17ü, repr. p.27)
Barbara Hepworth: A Sculptor's Landscape 1934-74, 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 (22ü)
Sculpture in a Country Park: An Outdoor Exhibition in the Gardens of Margam, Welsh Sculpture Trust, Cardiff, June 1983-June 1984 (no numberü, repr.)
Barbara Hepworth: A Retrospective, Tate Gallery Liverpool, Sept.-Dec. 1994, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Conn., Feb.-April 1995, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, May-Aug. (76ü, repr. p.113)
Barbara Hepworth: Sculptures from the Estate, Wildenstein, New York, Oct.-Nov. 1996 (no numberü, col. repr. p.49)

Literature:
Alan Bowness (ed.), The Complete Sculpture of Barbara Hepworth 1960-69, 1971, p.47 no.467, pl.13 (col.)
Tate Gallery Acquisitions 1980-2, 1984, p.122, repr.

Reproduced:
Bijutsu Techo, Aug. 1970, p.15
David Fraser Jenkins, Barbara Hepworth: A Guide to the Tate Gallery Collection at London and St Ives, Cornwall, 1982, p.38

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

The eponymous six forms were hollow cast, and the base sand cast, in an edition of nine by the Morris Singer Foundry, who by 1968 made all of Hepworth's bronzes. The individual elements are bolted together. Indentations in their main faces result from Hepworth's carving of the original plaster and are coloured with a green patina. The rest of the work is a consistent dark bronze colour, though an early colour photograph (perhaps of another cast) shows it to be generally more golden and the inside of the hole in the bottom left hand form was especially highly polished (Bowness 1971). The artist instructed the foundry that the finish 'should be very lightly touched by liver of salts, with a touch of colour in texture, and a dark base' (letter to Eric Gibbard, 2 Aug. 1968, TGA 965). When acquired by the Tate, Six Forms (2 x 3) was lacquered, presumably for outside display, some lacquer had been removed by abrasion and, in common with the other works in the artist's garden, in 1983 the sculpture was lacquered and wax-polished. That coating was partly removed in 1989 and the surface is waxed annually (Tate Gallery Conservation Files).

Six Forms (2 x 3) is one of the multi-part sculptures that proliferated in Hepworth's work in the late 1960s. In relation to her early comparable pieces, such as Three Forms, 1935 (Tate Gallery T00696), these show a greater complexity in their individual forms and in their arrangement. While the elements of the 1960s works tended to be either geometric or biomorphic, in the case of Six Forms the irregularity makes the sculpture appear especially fragmentary. A similar stacking up of elements was seen in larger, more totemic pieces such as Three Forms Vertical (Offering), 1967 (BH 452, Gimpel Fils, repr. Bowness 1971, pl.169) and culminated in the figures of The Family of Man, 1972 (BH 452, Barbara Hepworth Estate, repr. Penelope Curtis and Alan G. Wilkinson, Barbara Hepworth: A Retrospective, exh. cat., Tate Gallery Liverpool 1994, p.115). Though the superimposition of elements was a feature of the work of several sculptors in the late 1950s and early 1960s, William Turnbull for example, Hepworth claimed that it had been a concern of hers since the 1920s. By a comparison with her Project: Monument to the Spanish War, 1938 (BH 111, destroyed, repr. Herbert Read, Barbara Hepworth: Carvings and Drawings, 1952, pl.55), she related her return to the theme in the 1960s to contemporary anxieties over the Vietnam War ('Alan Bowness: Conversations with Barbara Hepworth', Bowness 1971, p.13). According to Edwin Mullins, Hepworth associated Six Forms (2 x 3) with the landscape. She described, he said, 'how the angles at which the pieces are set, and the patterning on the bronze itself, were related to the experience of a boat-trip in the Scilly Isles, off the coast of Cornwall, and in particular the swirling motion of going round and round in the boat' (Barbara Hepworth Exhibition, 1970, Hakone Open-Air Museum, 1970, no pag.).

The six, apparently randomly shaped, elements of this work are actually fragments of a larger piece. The varying thicknesses and curvatures of the six forms demonstrate that they can be rearranged and reorientated to make an homogenous sculpture similar, but not identical to, the series of monolithic sculptures that culminated in Single Form, 1963 for the United Nations in New York (BH 325, UN Plaza, New York, comparative illustration). The two pieces in the middle go to form the top third of the six-part monolith: the upper section being turned around to be the top right hand corner. The tapering bottom of the single form is made up from the top left and right hand sections of Six Forms, both turned around and the latter inverted. The bottom left hand constituent of Six Forms must be turned around to provide the left hand side of the middle section of the unified object, while the orientation of that at bottom right need not change. The holes and concave circle of Six Forms do not relate to the unitary work.

The resultant piece is close to, but not an exact scale model of, Single Form. Similarly, the six sub-divisions echo in angle and disposition, but do not precisely replicate, the design of incised lines on the UN sculpture. These lines mark the sections in which Single Form was cast and were incorporated into the design by the artist to facilitate its construction. One may relate Six Forms (2 x 3) to the different works in which Hepworth saw the evolution of Single Form and to the means of casting such a large work. By her account, in 1961 she made three works mindful of a vague scheme for a monument at the United Nations building in New York that she had discussed with the Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjöld, a friend ('Alan Bowness: Conversations with Barbara Hepworth', Bowness 1971, p.10). They were Curved Form (Bryher II), (BH 305, Joseph H. Hirshhorn Collection, New York, col. repr. Bowness 1971, pl.2), Single Form (Chun Quoit) (BH 311, Barbara Hepworth Estate, repr. ibid., pl.55) and Single Form (September) (Tate Gallery T03143). When it was finally suggested, following Hammarskjöld's death, that a piece might be commissioned by the UN as a memorial to him, she produced the ten feet high (3125 mm) Single Form (Memorial), 1961-2 (BH 314, Battersea Park, repr. ibid., pls.56-7). This was scaled up and adjusted slightly to produce the twenty-one feet (6400 mm) Single Form. The various works show slight variations in form as well as the dramatic differences in scale. Of the different versions of the concept, Single Form (September) is closest to the object generated by the reassembly of Six Forms. As well as their proximity in size, both have a similarly shallow curve on the left hand side, in contrast to the more rounded edge of the Battersea Park and New York sculptures.

The UN's Single Form was cast in seven pieces: six for the sculpture itself and a seventh as an underplate for insertion into the plinth. However, a blue-painted plaster model in the artist's estate of a similar work in three horizontal sections suggests that she considered different ways of subdividing the form. The model incorporates a tubular metal framework which, if compared with a photograph of the plaster for Single Form under construction (Bowness 1971, pl.67), appears to be a proposed armature for the larger work. It is not clear whether the proposed structure would have been for the plaster or the finished bronze, as the artist later explained that, like the plaster, the bronze was 'reinforced like a battleship, criss-crossed, to take all the strains' (Bowness 1971, p.11). That the conception of the final sculpture in three horizontal sections persisted is suggested by a letter from Hepworth to the foundry shortly before the completion of the casting of the bronze. 'I feel more and more', she wrote, 'that I ought to see the whole thing assembled and not pass the pieces assembled horizontally in three parts' (to Eric Gibbard, 10 Dec. 1963, TGA 965). In response, the founder reassured the artist: 'We are taking every precaution to ensure the form is exactly as your model' (letter from Eric Gibbard, 11 Dec. 1963, TGA 965). Though it is not clear whether he referred to a maquette or the full-scale plaster, it seems likely that, prior to working on the commission, Hepworth would have made a maquette for the project that anticipated its division into six pieces.

The constituent parts of Six Forms (2 x 3) could have originated from the fragmentation of such a model, and the discrepancies between it and the Hammarskjöld memorial might result from practical decisions made during the scaling-up and production processes. Such an imaginative reworking of an earlier piece would be consistent with Hepworth's economy of production and may be compared to the incorporation of earlier carvings in a bronze such as Hollow Form with Inner Form (Tate Gallery T03148) of the same year. That the object resulting from the arrangement of Six Forms is closest to Single Form (September), the genesis of the memorial (Bowness interview, p.10), would also support the notion that it originated as an early stage in the project.

Chris Stephens
March 1998


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