Eva Hesse Ringaround Arosie

Eva Hesse
Ringaround Arosie  1965
Pencil, acetone, varnish, enamel, paint, ink and cloth-covered electrical wire on papier-mâché and Masonite
67 x 41.9 x 11.4 cm
Courtesy Martin Bernstein, Birmingham, Michigan © Estate of Eva Hesse
Photo: Courtesy The Estate of Eva Hesse. Galerie Hauser & Wirth, Zurich

While developing the drawings of machine parts and cord fragments that lay around her studio floor, Hesse began to experiment with the materials themselves, collaging them into three-dimensional reliefs. Starting with a rectangle of chip board or Masonite, she built up the surface with plaster, papier mâché, machine parts, cord, wire and paint. The sexually ambiguous forms and whimsical titles (chosen by Hesse and Doyle together) lend a playful element to these works. Ringaround Arosie 1965 was described by Hessein a letter to Sol LeWitt as ‘both breast and penis’. She gave the piece its title after hearing the news that her friend Rosie Goldman was pregnant.

The reliefs have a painterly quality. In painting, however, perspective is generally used to suggest space within a two-dimensional format, while these works emerge out of the flat picture plane and into the three-dimensional space of the viewer. In C-Clamp Blues 1965, Hesse goes a step further, playing with texture, space and gravity to create a sexually suggestive image that literally bursts out of its confines and reaches out from the wall towards the floor.