Press Release

Barbara Hepworth: Centenary

Tate St Ives
24 May – 1 October 2003

Barbara Hepworth: Centenary is the largest exhibition in Britain marking the centenary of this major sculptor’s birth, and coincides with the tenth anniversary of Tate St Ives. Hepworth (1903-75) was one of Britain’s most important twentieth century artists, and this exhibition brings together works from collections all over the world. While some of the works are well known, others have not been seen in Britain for many years. The exhibition will be arranged in seven themes, which are designed to shed new light on the artist’s work and the concerns that underlie it.

The theme Single Form will focus on wood carvings inspired by the human figure and includes Hepworth’s early figurative works and her abstracted sculptures of the 1940s and 50s. Maternity will consist of stone sculptures, made in the late 1920s and early 30s when Hepworth produced works on the theme of mother and child. These will be shown alongside works made after the Second World War where ideas of nurture and maternity are expressed through a series of oval and enfolding forms.

In the mid 1940s Hepworth made a group of wooden sculptures based on the idea of the figure in landscape, which were inspired by Cornwall. Landscape Sculpture includes some of the artist’s finest works such as Oval Sculpture 1943 and Pelagos 1946. Unable to carve much during the war Hepworth produced a series of studies for sculpture, combining geometric patterns of lines with areas of strong colour and Drawings for Sculptures with Colour will offer a selection of these exquisite two-dimensional works.

Scented Guarea is a group of sculptures made in the mid 1950s carved from huge logs of the tropical hardwood guarea. This rich, dark, heavily scented material inspired some of her most monumental wood carvings, which she related to her experience of the Greek landscape. This group of works will be reunited for the first time in over forty years in a display set against the dramatic backdrop of Porthmeor Beach.

In the 1960s and early 70s Hepworth returned to an earlier interest in coloured stones, which will be shown alongside paintings from the 1950s in Coloured Stones and Paintings. The last theme, Inter-Related Masses consists of pure, white marble sculptures, which have not been seen together for over fifty years, including Three Forms 1935 and the recently discovered Two Forms with Sphere 1935. These will be displayed alongside figurative marble groups from the 1950s, and a series of drawings of surgical operations from the 1940s, which emphasise Hepworth’s fascination with human interaction.

There will also be a display of photographs of the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden in St Ives, which was Hepworth’s home and studio from 1949-75.

Barbara Hepworth: Centenary will be accompanied by a catalogue, jointly produced with the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, with essays by the exhibition’s Curator Chris Stephens, poet Simon Armitage, art historian Sophie Bowness, Professor David Lewis and novelist Jeanette Winterson.

Daily 10.00-17.30