Dame Barbara Hepworth

Hollow Form with Inner Form


In Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden

Dame Barbara Hepworth 1903–1975
Object: 1293 × 660 × 735mm
Presented by the executors of the artist's estate 1980

Catalogue entry

Dame Barbara Hepworth 1903-1975

T03148 Hollow Form with Inner Form 1968

BH 469; cast 0/6

Bronze on a bronze base 1230 x 660 x 660 (48 1/2 x 26 x 26)

Cast inscription on top of base 'Barbara Hepworth 1968 0/6' back l. and cast foundry mark on rear of base 'Morris | Singer | FOUNDERS | LONDON' 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, Gimpel Gallery, New York, April-May 1969 (21ý, repr.)
10e Biennale Middelheim, Middelheim Park, Antwerp, June-Oct. 1969 (69ý, repr.)
First International Exhibition of Modern Sculpture, Hakone Open-Air Museum, Japan, Aug.-Oct. 1969, (13ý, repr.)
Barbara Hepworth: Recent Work, Sculpture, Paintings, Prints, Marlborough Fine Art, Feb.-March 1970 (15ý, repr.)
Barbara Hepworth, Plymouth City Art Gallery, June-Aug. 1970 (52)
Barbara Hepworth Exhibition, 1970, Hakone Open-Air Museum, Japan, June-Sept. 1970, (29ü, repr. in col.)
Ten Sculptors - Two Cathedrals, The Cathedral Close, Winchester, July-Aug., The Cathedral Close, Salisbury, Aug.-Sept. 1970 (no. numberý)
Barbara Hepworth, University of Texas Art Museum, Austin, Sept. 1971 (4ý)
Barbara Hepworth: Late Works, Edinburgh Festival Society, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, Aug.-Sept. 1976 (8ý, repr.)
Barbara Hepworth: Carvings and Bronzes, Marlborough Gallery and Marlborough Gallery, New York, May-June 1979 (31, repr. p.57)
Barbara Hepworth, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Bretton Hall, July-Oct. 1980 (19ý, repr. p.24)

Alan Bowness (ed.), The Complete Sculpture of Barbara Hepworth 1960-69, 1971, p.47 no.469, pls.179-80
Tate Gallery Acquisitions 1980-2, 1984, p.122-3, repr.
W.J. Strachan, Open Air Sculpture in Britain: A Comprehensive Guide, 1984, p.197, no.45, repr.

Barbara Hepworth: A Pictorial Autobiography, 1970, p.124, pl.336
David Fraser Jenkins, Barbara Hepworth: A Guide to the Tate Gallery Collection at London and St Ives, Cornwall, 1982, p.39

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

The contrast of the interior and exterior of forms is one of the dominant themes of Hepworth's sculpture. However, the problems she experienced in taking a mould from her Oval Sculpture (Tate Gallery T00953) in 1958 had demonstrated that to pursue the theme in cast works demanded different techniques to the tunneling out of carvings. Alternatives included the use of expanded aluminium to produce enfolding forms like Involute II (Tate Gallery T03749) or the placing of one form inside another.

Cast in an edition of six, the bronze Hollow Form with Inner Form results from the conjunction of two carvings. The internal element was cast from the teak Single Form, 1963-8 (BH 471, McCrory Corporation, New York, repr. Bowness 1971, pl.198), and the encircling larger element from Hollow Form, 1963-8 (BH 330, destroyed Aug. 1971, repr. ibid., p.35). Given their separation in Alan Bowness's catalogue of Hepworth's work, it seems likely that the expansive dating originates from Hollow Form, which has a very particular history. Dicon Nance has recalled that it originated from a log of elm with dry rot in its middle which he was asked to clean out until only solid wood remained (interview with the author, 12 Oct. 1996). Such was the extent of the infestation that only the thin outer section survived. The date 1963-8 presumably joins the time of that carving with the casting of the bronze. The determination of sculptural form by practical demands was typical of Hepworth's carving, as seen in Nanjizal (Tate Gallery T00352) for example, but the fact that Hollow Form was destroyed unexhibited might suggest that the artist did not consider it a work of art in its own right. In contrast, Single Form, though also unexhibited, was sold and subsequently cast in bronze in an edition of 7 + 0 entitled Single Form (Aloe) (BH 482, Poole Technical College, repr. Bowness 1971, p.49).

The origin of the bronze is revealed in its basic shape of a cylinder with the edges rounded off. This minimal intervention into the form of the original log may be seen in numerous wood pieces, including Hollow Form with White, 1965 (Tate Gallery T00960) and Makutu, 1969/1970 (T03151). The open diagonal section in the external element of Hollow Form with Inner Form and another smaller opening in the right hand side may originate from Nance's carving out of the timber. The broad chisel marks of the original wood animate the internal surface of the bronze, which has a pale blue-green patina. In the contrast between this and the discrete inner form, which, like the outer face of the larger element, is unpatinated, the artist perhaps sought to replicate the contrast of the original teak set against the lighter elm. The two parts were hollow cast and are fastened to the base with stainless steel screws, which replaced the steel originals. On acquisition by the Tate the unpatinated surfaces were waxed. In 1983 lacquer was applied to the whole sculpture and later (1989) removed and replaced with a protective coating of wax (Tate Gallery Conservation Files).

Six Forms (2 x 3) (Tate Gallery T03147), of the same year, was also produced by the reconstitution of an earlier piece. This may reflect the demands placed upon Hepworth in what was a busy and highly significant year for her. While her achievement was marked by a retrospective at the Tate Gallery in the spring, her contribution to civic life as well as her national status was recognised by her local community when they conferred on her the Freedom of the Borough of St Ives. However, the period was also marked by illness, as, in 1968, she was weakened by two years of treatment for cancer and suffered a broken hip that forced her to rely upon walking sticks. The ever increasing market for her work coupled with these imposed frailties may have contributed to the need to make new works from old. However, the combination of individual works to produce a further conglomerate piece was not unprecedented: in 1956 she had shown her Reclining Figure I (Zennor) and Reclining Figure II, both 1955-6, (BH 204, artist's estate, repr. Barbara Hepworth 1903-75: 50 Sculptures from 1935 to 1970, exh. cat., Gimpel Fils, 1975, no.10; BH 205, Browse and Darby, repr. Barbara Hepworth, exh. cat., William Darby, 1975, unpag.) within the hollowed spaces of Oval Form (West Penwith), 1955-6, (BH 203, Marlborough Fine Art) as Three Forms: The Seasons, 1956 (repr. Recent Works by Barbara Hepworth, Gimpel Fils, 1956, no.7). She would subsequently return to the setting of small elements within an enfolding larger form with stone pieces such as Oval with Two Forms, 1971 (Tate Gallery T03152).

Chris Stephens
March 1998

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