Dame Barbara Hepworth



In Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden

Dame Barbara Hepworth 1903–1975
Object: 1590 × 510 × 460 mm
Accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to Tate 2005, accessioned 2006

Catalogue entry

Image 1951-2

BH 173

Hopton wood stone 1500 x 335 x 340 (59 1/16 x 13 3/16 x 13 3/8) on a concrete base 10 x 510 x 460 (4 x 20 1/8 x 18 12/8)

On loan from the Barbara Hepworth Estate

New Sculpture and Drawings by Barbara Hepworth, Lefevre Gallery, Oct. 1952 (3)
?2e Biennale voor Beeldhouwkunst, Middelheim Park, Antwerp, May-Sept. 1959 (54)
Sculpture in the Open Air: London County Council Third International Exhibition of Sculpture, Holland Park, May-Sept. 1954 (13)
Documenta: Kunst des XX. Jahrhunderts, Museum Fridericianum, Kassel, July-Sept. 1955 (223, repr. pl.103)
Exposition internationale de sculpture contemporaine, open-air exh., Mus?e Rodin, Paris, 1956 (catalogue not traced)
Spring Exhibition, Penwith Society of Arts, St Ives, spring 1956 (48)
Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson, Hatton Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne, Dec. 1956 (17, as 'collection British Council')
Contemporary British Sculpture, AC open air tour, Leamington Spa, May-June 1958, Shrewsbury Festival July-Aug., Cardiff, Aug. (14, repr. pl.1)
Modern Sculpture, Leeds City Art Gallery, Oct.-Nov. 1958 (22, repr. pl.15)
Barbara Hepworth, V Bienal do Museu de Arte Moderna Sao Paolo, Sept.-Dec. 1959 (7) and BC tour of South America, Comisi¢n National de Bellas Artes, Montevideo, Apr.-May 1960, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, May-June, Instituto de Arte Moderno, Santiago, Sept.-Oct., Museo de Bellas Artes, Vi¤a del Mar (Chile), Oct., Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, Nov. 1960 (6)
?Italia '61, Turin 1961 (catalogue not traced)
Barbara Hepworth, BC European tour 1964-6: Kunstforeningen, Copenhagen, Sept.-Oct. 1964 (7), Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Nov.-Dec. 1964 (8), Ateneum, Helsinki, Jan.-Feb. 1965 (7), Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo, March 1965 (7), Rijksmueum Kr?ller-M?ller, Otterlo, May-June 1965 (7), Kunsthalle Basel, Sept.-Oct. 1965 (6), Badscher Kunstvarein, Karlsruhe, Feb.-March 1966 (6), Museum Folkwang, Essen, April-June 1966 (6), Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna, Turin, Oct.-Nov. 1965 (7, repr.)
Barbara Hepworth, Tate Gallery, April-May 1968 (59, repr. p.22)

J.P. Hodin, Barbara Hepworth, 1961, p.167, no.173, repr.
A.M. Hammacher, Barbara Hepworth, 1968, rev. ed. 1987, p.115

Herbert Read, Barbara Hepworth: Carvings and Drawings, 1952, pls.155a-b
A.M. Hammacher, Barbara Hepworth, 1959, pl.12
Historical Survey, Rijksmueum Kr?ller-M?ller, Otterlo, 1969, p.50
Penelope Curtis and Alan G. Wilkinson, Barbara Hepworth: A Retrospective, exh. cat., Tate Gallery Liverpool 1994, p.152

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

Image, with its simple pierced form, may be seen as an archetypal Hepworth carving. Its essential shape - a curved, three sided column that broadens as it rises before narrowing slightly at the top - follows that of the Single Form pieces originated in the 1930s, such as Single Form (Eikon) (Tate Gallery T00697) and would recur in one of the figures of Conversation with Magic Stones, 1973 (Tate Gallery T03851).

The sculpture is carved from hopton wood stone, which is characterised by its deposits of fossils and fine flint-like fragments. The fossils appear to be denser towards the left hand side and an especially prominent one cuts across the front most of the top corners. Though the artist preferred to carve hardwood or marble, a majority of her stone carvings from the ten years following the war were from indigenous materials. This reflects the relative scarcity of more exotic stones and the restrictions placed upon her production by financial considerations. The relief Vertical Forms, 1951 for Hatfield Technical College (BH 169, Hertfordshire County Council, repr. Hodin 1961, pl.169) was another contemporaneous work carved from hopton wood. In Image there are several lighter areas which are natural variations in the stone, though they may also incorporate some filler. The sculpture was cleaned in 1998 as prolonged exhibition out of doors had resulted in an orange staining from a nearby magnolia tree and lichen and algal growth over much of the surface, especially where water runs out of the openings. Early photographs suggest that the current concrete base is not original.

The artist explicitly related Image to the motif of the figure in the landscape, which she had identified as the predominant theme of her work since the early 1940s. The experience of landscape provided a point of departure for two types of sculpture. The majority are enfolding forms, such as Pelagos, 1946 (Tate Gallery T00699) or Corinthos, 1954-5 (Tate Gallery T00531), in which the work's morphology echoes the artist's conception of the earth wrapping around the body. In contrast, Hepworth discussed Image in terms of a singular figure standing in the landscape. Writing in the catalogue of a 1958 open-air exhibition, she related it to later works which she produced after her visit to Greece, such as Corinthos. She believed that in the peninsular of West Penwith, as in Greece, the sea's proximity created a particular quality of light in which,

the vertical power of a human figure is ... accentuated. In this pure light the solitary human figure, standing on hill or cliff, sand or rock, becomes a strong column, a thrust out of the land, as strong as the rock itself and powerfully rooted: but the impression overall is one of growth and expansion, a rising form which reaches outwards and upwards, an image, or symbol of the span of time. This is my own reaction to the effect of light and space on a figure seen in West Penwith in Cornwall.
(Contemporary British Sculpture, exh. cat., AC open air tour 1958, p.12).
She had, similarly, related the more starkly abstract Single Form motif to the landscape. In 1943 she described one of them (BH 102, Leeds City Art Gallery, repr. Read 1952, pl.52) as 'born of [a] particular sort of landscape' (letter to E.H. Ramsden, 28 April [1943], TGA 9310). Her addition of the term 'eikon', Greek for 'image', to the bronze of Single Form (Tate Gallery T00697) reflects this continuum. In 1954, Hepworth explained that Image was an attempt to synthesise her experience and 'a particular quality of the landscape'. She concluded, 'In this way the forms and piercings, the weight and poise of the sculpture also become evocative - a fusion of human experience and myth' (Sculpture in the Open Air, exh. cat., Holland Park 1954, unpag.). The reference to myth implied her awareness of the history and past culture of a landscape and thus alluded to the megaliths that pepper the Cornish countryside. These had been associated with her work since J.D. Bernal's introduction to her 1937 Lefevre exhibition and continued to be registered in later pieces such as Two Figures (Menhirs), 1964 (Tate Gallery T00703).

That the artist and others saw Image as an important and characteristic work is illustrated by its widespread exposition in national and international exhibitions. In addition to its tours of Europe and South America, a reproduction was included in a display of photographs of Hepworth's work which travelled to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), New Zealand, Hong Kong, Sarawak, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaya between 1961 and 1963.

Chris Stephens
March 1998

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