Eva Hesse Hang Up

Eva Hesse
Hang Up  1966
Acrylic paint on cloth over wood; acrylic paint on cord over steel tube
182.9 x 213.4 x 198.1 cm
The Art Institute of Chicago,
Through Prior Gifts of Arthur Keating and Mr and Mrs Edward Morris
© Estate of Eva Hesse

Returning to New York in 1965, Hesse took her experiments with reliefs to new extremes before focusing on free-standing sculpture. She considered Hang Up 1966 to be her ‘most important early statement’. A great loop of wire, protruding from the empty frame, swerves out towards the viewer, as if trying to scoop up the space in front of it. The absurdity of this pictureless picture is further enhanced by the obsessive bandaging of the frame and wire with cloth.

Hesse described it as:

the most ridiculous structure that I ever made and that is why it is really good. It has a kind of depth I don’t always achieve and that is the kind of depth or soul or absurdity or life or meaning or feeling or intellect that I want to get.

Eva Hesse Untitled or Not Yet

Eva Hesse
Untitled or Not Yet  1966
Net bags, clear polyethylene sheeting, paper, metal weights, and string
180.3 x 39.4 x 21 cm
San Fransisco Museum of Modern Art, Purchased Through a Gift of Phyllis Wattis
© Estate of Eva Hesse
Photo: Courtesy The Estate of Eva Hesse, Galerie Hauser & Wirth, Zurich

Hesse knew many of the artists associated with Minimal and Conceptual art, such as Sol LeWitt, Robert Smithson and Mel Bochner. At the same time, she was absorbed by Surrealism, sharing its fascination with psychoanalysis and sexuality.

Her fetishistic, sexually-suggestive shapes bound tightly with cord echo the works of Surrealist artists Hans Bellmer and Man Ray. Untitled or Not Yet 1966, shows Hesse experimenting with new materials, and with ideas associated with gravitational pull and concealment.