Eva Hesse Sans II 1968

Eva Hesse
Sans II 1968
Installed at Yale University Art Gallery 1992
© The Estate of Eva Hesse. Hauser & Wirth Zürich London

Hesse returned again and again to serial forms in her work, but instead of making them uniform, she subtly varied each shape so that they become characterful, and almost comical. She commented: ‘If something is absurd, it’s much more exaggerated, more absurd if it’s repeated…’ 

In the summer of 1967, she embarked on a series of sculptures entitled Repetition Nineteen. The first version consisted of nineteen bucket-like forms and was constructed out of aluminium mesh and papier-mâché. Hesse then began to experiment with latex, a type of liquid rubber, which she found exciting for its ‘endless possibilities’. However, it was difficult to get the bucket-shapes to hold their form and so she turned to fibreglass, which was malleable enough to work with, and which shared the translucency and colour of latex, but which set hard.

Hesse preferred her sculptures to lie somewhere between ugliness and beauty; yet she acknowledged that their seductive textures can be appealing: ‘If you use fibreglass clear and thin, light does beautiful things to it… it is there - part of its anatomy’. The monumental Sans II 1968 has an evocative tactility, its suggestion of a Minimalist grid subverted by the idiosyncratically rough edges around the boxes.