Dame Barbara Hepworth Sphere with Inner Form 1963

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Artwork details

Artist
Title
Sphere with Inner Form
Date 1963
Medium Bronze
Dimensions Object: 900 x 900 x 885 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Presented by the executors of the artist's estate 1980
Reference
T03146

Catalogue entry

Dame Barbara Hepworth 1903-1975

T03146 Sphere with Inner Form 1963, cast 1963

BH 333; cast 0/7

Bronze 900 x 900 x 885 (38 3/8 x 35 1/2 x 34 7/8) on bronze base 75 x 595 x 595 (3 x 23 3/8 x 23 3/8)

Cast numerals on rear of base '0/7' t.r.

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

Exhibited (ý = unidentified cast, ü = other cast):
Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture and Drawings, Gimpel Fils, June 1964, (29ý, repr.)
Summer Exhibition 1964, Penwith Society of Arts, St Ives, summer 1964 (sculpture 4ý)
Contemporary British Sculpture, AC open-air tour, Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham, April-May 1965, Brighton University, May, Abington Park, Northampton, June, Castle Grounds, Nottingham, July, Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, July-Aug., Hillfield Gardens, Gloucester, Sept. (7ý, repr. pl.1)
Barbara Hepworth, BC tour, Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterlo, May-July 1965, Kunsthalle Basel, Sept.-Oct., Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, Feb.-March 1966, Museum Folkwang, Essen, April-June (26ü, repr.), Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna, Turin, Oct.-Nov. 1965 (36ü, repr. p.85)
Barbara Hepworth, Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, New York, April-May 1966 (10ý, repr.)
Barbara Hepworth, Tate Gallery, April-May 1968 (132ü)
Barbara Hepworth, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Bretton Hall, July-Oct. 1980 (10ü)

Literature:
Alan Bowness (ed.), The Complete Sculpture of Barbara Hepworth 1960-69, 1971, p.35 no.333, pls.78-9
Tate Gallery Acquisitions 1980-2, 1984, p.121-2, repr.

Reproduced:
Keith Roberts, 'London', Burlington Magazine, vol.106, no.736, July 1964, p.352
20th Century Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture presented to the Institute of Contemporary Arts for sale on behalf of the Carlton House Terrace Project, Sotheby's, 23 June 1966 (lot 25), p.37 and on front cover
Report of the Committee of the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, 1968, between pp.14 & 15
Nicholas Mills, 'Hepworth Museum', Architectural Review, vol.160, no.954, Aug. 1976, p.119
A.M. Hammacher, Barbara Hepworth, 1968, rev. ed. 1987, p.158, pl.136
David Fraser Jenkins, Barbara Hepworth: A Guide to the Tate Gallery Collection at London and St Ives, Cornwall, 1982, p.36

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

Enclosure was one of Barbara Hepworth's favoured themes, and in Sphere with Inner Form it is condensed to considerable formal simplicity. The sphere's smooth thin shell, punctured by circular and oval openings, covers the crusty inner form, which is also pierced. The warm brown patina of the outer surfaces contrasts with the green of the interior faces and the inner form. On more than one occasion Hepworth expounded upon the significance of this enclosure which recurred in such works as Oval with Two Forms, 1971 (Tate Gallery T03152). Especially pertinent to Sphere with Inner Form, she drew attention to the relationship between 'an inside and an outside of every form ... a nut in its shell or of a child in the womb, or in the structure of shells or of crystals, or when one senses the architecture of bones in the human figure' (J.P. Hodin, 'Barbara Hepworth and the Mediterranean Spirit', Marmo, no.3, Dec. 1964, p.62). There are formal links between these examples, but they also belong to a chain of ideas associated with protection and fruition. This leads back to the organic figure carvings of the early 1930s, especially the lost Figure (Mother and Child), 1933 (BH 52, destroyed, repr. J.P. Hodin, Barbara Hepworth, 1961, pl.52), in which the child nestles within the encircling presence of the mother. Psychological readings have been made of such relationships in Hepworth's sculpture, especially in the light of Melanie Klein's analysis of child psychology (Anne M. Wagner, 'Miss Hepworth's Stone Is a Mother' in David Thistlewood (ed.), Barbara Hepworth Reconsidered, 1996, pp.53-74). These theories focus on the enclosing form as womb, and the making of art as a reparative activity in response to childhood aggression towards the mother. That psychoanalytic ideas informed Hepworth's later work is suggested by the Jungian subtitle of Curved Form with Inner Form (Anima), 1959 (BH 265, Rijksmuseum, Kröller-Müller, Otterlo, repr. Hammacher 1967 and 1987, p.136, fig.115), which evokes the female aspect within the male. The enfolding curve of Curved Form with Inner Form (Anima) - which is based upon Wave, 1943-4 (BH 122, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, repr. Hodin 1961, pl.122) - is open at the sides, the rough inner form contrasts with the smooth exterior and is pierced and roughly four sided in elevation. In all these respects it anticipated Sphere with Inner Form of four years later.

Like Hepworth's other bronzes, the plaster was made around an expanded aluminium armature; the sphere is visible in progress in a photograph of the artist at work (Warren Forma, 5 British Sculptors (Work and Talk), New York, 1964, p.17). The bronze was hollow cast at the Art Bronze Foundry, London from 1963; the artist's copy (0/7) and another (7/7) were ordered in early 1965 (letter to foundry, 2 Feb. 1965, TGA 965). The sphere was cast in at least two pieces, as the welded joint is visible passing over the top, but there were problems with the edition. Hepworth complained that one was 'badly grazed' and had 'a nasty crack in the centre of the base' requiring repair in the studio (letter to foundry, 21 April 1965, TGA 965). The artist's cast, which came to the Tate, has a crack where the central weld meets the base, another crack in the base and a hole on the edge of the casting (Tate Gallery Conservation Files). These and other faults were repaired in the studio with lead alloy filler; a material which is consistent with reports of the use of car body filler (Brian Wall, interview with the author, 3 May 1996). Further repairs have used polyester filler. These problems appear to have been echoed in the subsequent corrosion of the bronze, resulting in deposits of copper salts on the inner surfaces (Tate Gallery Conservation Files). Although this is compounded by outside display, the fact that the location was not the cause is confirmed by a similar development on the other 1965 cast (7/7), now owned by the Whitworth Art Gallery of the University of Manchester. Samples of the salts were analysed at the British Museum in 1985, which identified the presence of gypsum as a result of the casting process; the conclusion was that the sculpture was not undergoing 'active corrosion' but that 'localised corrosion is occuring at the alloy-gypsum interface' (letter, S.M. Bradley to Derek Pullen, 28 Jan. 1985, Tate Gallery Conservation Files). The conjunction of the two forms tends to encourage the collection of water and other detritus, and to block the drainage hole which carries rainwater away through the base.

Hepworth donated a cast (6/7) of this work to be auctioned for the benefit of the Institute of Contemporary Art in 1966. Another cast (4/7) is among the rich Hepworth holdings at the Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Holland.

Matthew Gale
March 1998


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