Dame Barbara Hepworth

Involute II


Dame Barbara Hepworth 1903–1975
Object: 410 × 420 × 360 mm, 35 kg
Transferred from the Victoria & Albert Museum 1983

Catalogue entry

Dame Barbara Hepworth 1903-1975

T03749 Involute II 1956

BH 218; cast 4/6

Bronze on bronze base 410 x 420 x 360 (16 1/8 x 16 1/2 x 14 1/8); weight: 33.4 kg.

Not inscribed

Transferred from the Victoria & Albert Museum 1983

Purchased from the artist by the Department of Circulation, Victoria & Albert Museum through Gimpel Fils 1960 (Circ.249-1960)

Exhibited (ý = unidentified cast, ü = other cast):
Contemporary British Art, AC tour, Castle Museum, Nottingham, May-June 1957, Southampton Art Gallery, June-July, Bute Park, Cardiff, July-Aug., Penlee House, Penzance, Aug.-Sept., Imperial Gardens, Cheltenham Festival, Sept.-Oct (not in cat.)
Recent Works by Barbara Hepworth, Gimpel Fils, June 1958 (3ý)
Modern Sculpture, Leeds City Art Gallery, Oct.-Nov. 1958 (34)
A Private Exhibition of Contemporary British Paintings, Sculptures and Drawings, British Embassy, Brussels, summer 1958 (15)
Hepworth, Galerie Chalette, New York, Oct.-Nov. 1959 (16ý)
Barbara Hepworth, Galerie Charles Lienhard, Zürich, Oct. 1960 (3ý, repr.)
Sculpture 1961, Welsh Committee of the Arts Council, National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, July-Sept. 1961, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea, Sept., National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, Oct., University College, Bangor, Nov. (18ü, repr.)
'Abstract Form and Life': Sculpture by Barbara Hepworth and Biological Models, Queens University of Belfast, April 1962 (3ý, repr. as 1959)
Barbara Hepworth: An Exhibition of Sculpture from 1952-1962, Whitechapel Art Gallery, May-June 1962 (20, repr.)
Barbara Hepworth, Gimpel Fils, Oct.-Nov. 1972 (3ü)
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 (8ý, repr.)
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 (8ý)

J.P. Hodin, Barbara Hepworth, 1961, pp.22, 169 no.218, repr.
W.J. Strachan, Open Air Sculpture in Britain: A Comprehensive Guide, 1984, p.230, no.541, repr. p.231
Tate Gallery Acquisitions 1982-4, 1986, p.198, repr.
Alan G. Wilkinson, 'Cornwall and the Sculpture of Landscape: 1939-1975' in Penelope Curtis and Alan G. Wilkinson, Barbara Hepworth: A Retrospective, exh. cat., Tate Gallery Liverpool 1994, p.102

Following the three feet high Curved Form (Trevalgan) (Tate Gallery T00353), Barbara Hepworth made a number of smaller sculptures in 1956 specifically to be cast in bronze; Involute II was one of these. It is formally close to the large work, although the sides turn over to form an enclosure. Both stand on curved undersides which, despite the bulk of material in the hollow, make them appear light. They were achieved by applying plaster to an armature of bent expanded aluminium sheet; these were then sent for casting. It may be a measure of the experimentation with techniques that works went through several transformations. The benefit of this system was that each stage could be issued in an edition to meet the considerable demand for Hepworth's work. As the title suggests, Involute II derives from Involute (BH 214, private collections, repr. in the artist's album TGA 7247.26). This smaller version (240 mm / 9 1/2 in. high) was cast in an edition of seven, and it is notable that the plaster was exhibited at Gimpel Fils in June 1956, suggesting that the bronzes were cast or finished in the second half of the year. By contrast to the smooth surface of Involute, Involute II was heavily textured, showing the crests and crevices of the plaster.

The bronzes are associated with two carvings: Involute I 1946, in white stone (BH 135, private collection, repr. Hodin 1961, pl.135) and its larger version Involute II, 1946 (BH 138, Pier Gallery, Stromness, repr. Pier Gallery, Stromness, Orkney, 1978, p.28, no.20), in pink Ancaster stone. The renewed emphasis on abstract forms in the mid 1950s made such works of a decade earlier suitable points of departure. The stones embody the inward rolling indicated by the title, as the spiralling lines of the edges of the outer surfaces guide the eye into three openings. This line became characteristic of Hepworth's piercing of the block. The stone works were implicitly associated with the volutes of architectural capitals, but their bronze successors were perhaps more akin to the spiral membranes of snail shells. The enclosing sides allowed a more open centre, which was dynamic and light. The result is also wave-like, and may be compared to the earlier carving Pelagos, 1946 (Tate Gallery T00699). The bronzes follow the stones, with the main plane turning over to form an eccentric arch and another spiralling over at an angle. The sheet of aluminium from which the form was cut must have been roughly T-shaped; this necessitated it being cut into three pieces in order to be cast.

The bronze was sand cast, probably at the Art Bronze Foundry in Fulham where Curved Form (Trevalgan) was also cast in 1956. The varied surface allowed for the uneven patination. The Tate's cast is in Hepworth's favoured green; it bears no inscription or number but, according to the artist's album (TGA 7247.26), it is 4/6. A cast remaining with the estate is blue, although this has been softened through exposure to public handling and weather conditions; it has a lower base, which is stamped 2/6. The Tate's cast is in generally good condition, but shows signs of weathering. Before its transfer to the gallery, it was involved in travelling exhibitions of the Department of Circulation at the V&A. Some losses were retouched while it was at the Museum; there are further losses of patination within the hollow of the main plane especially where the top of the fixing has been exposed. The welded joint where the subsidiary spiral touches the main curve is in danger of opening, as it has done on the estate's cast. In 1963, the sculptor gave another cast (5/6) to the Cornwall Education Committee, through which it was made available to local schools.

Matthew Gale
March 1998

You might like

In the shop