Dame Barbara Hepworth (British, 1903-1975) Three Forms (Extra Eye) 20 cm. (7 7/8 in.) high (excluding the base) (Conceived in an 1969, in an edition of 9 plus 3 Artist's casts)
Lot 88AR
Dame Barbara Hepworth
(British, 1903-1975)
Three Forms (Extra Eye) 20 cm. (7 7/8 in.) high (excluding the base)
Sold for £137,000 (US$ 182,905) inc. premium

Lot Details
Dame Barbara Hepworth (British, 1903-1975) Three Forms (Extra Eye) 20 cm. (7 7/8 in.) high (excluding the base) (Conceived in an 1969, in an edition of 9 plus 3 Artist's casts)
Dame Barbara Hepworth (British, 1903-1975)
Three Forms (Extra Eye)
signed, dated and numbered 'Barbara Hepworth 1969 9/9' and inscribed with Morris Singer foundry mark (on the base)
polished bronze on a bronze base
20 cm. (7 7/8 in.) high (excluding the base)
Conceived in an 1969, in an edition of 9 plus 3 Artist's casts

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    With Marlborough Gallery, London, 12 February 1970, where acquired by the present owner

    Exhibited
    London, Marlborough Fine Art, Barbara Hepworth: Recent Work: Sculpture, Paintings, Prints, 11 February-13 March 1970, cat.no.26 (ill., another cast)
    London, Gimpel Fils, Barbara Hepworth, 7 October-15 November 1975, cat.no.56 (another cast)
    Hakone, Japan, Hakone Open-Air Museum, Barbara Hepworth, 1 June-15 September 1970, cat.no.37 (ill., another cast)
    Plymouth, City Art Gallery, Barbara Hepworth, 16 June-16 August 1970, cat.no.60 (another cast)
    Galashiels, Scottish College of Textiles, Barbara Hepworth, organised by the Scottish Arts Council, 1978-9, cat.no.25 (another cast); this exhibition travelled to Inverness, Museum and Art Gallery; Dundee, Museum and Art Gallery; Milngavie, Lillie Art Gallery; Hawick, Museum and Art Gallery; Ayr, Maclaurin Art Gallery and Edinburgh, Talbot Rice Art Centre
    Salisbury, New Art Centre, Barbara Hepworth, Polished Bronzes, 2001, un-numbered catalogue (ill., another cast)

    Literature
    Alan Bowness (ed.), The Complete Sculpture of Barbara Hepworth, 1960-69, Lund Humphries, London, 1971, cat.no.487, pp.48-9 (ill.b&w, another cast)

    On Barbara Hepworth's death in 1975 the obituary published in The Guardian concluded that she was 'probably the most significant woman artist in the history of art to this day'. Few, if any, of her peers would dispute this verdict on an artist who was a founder of the modern movement and a pioneer of abstract art.

    The 1960s was an extremely productive period for Hepworth, making 227 works in that one decade compared to 273 in the preceding thirty-five years from 1925-1960. It was a time of great liberation for her, at last she had gained the international recognition she longed for and had enough space, time and money to be able to work really on only what she wished to.

    Predominantly a carver in her early career, she began to cast in bronze from the late 1950s and soon discovered that the strength and versatility of the medium would afford her great possibilities for multi-form sculptures. As such, the subsequent years saw Hepworth return to the pure forms - circles, rectangles and squares - that she had largely eschewed since the 1930s in favour of more organic motifs. These symmetrical forms were placed alongside each other, stacked vertically or even combined with several elements becoming one. But the apparent architectural syntax of these multiple part works belies the artist's abiding concern for life and nature. Monumental works from this period such as Squares with two Circles (1963) and Four-Square (Walk Through) (1966) were set in the landscape to be experienced, to be looked and literally 'walked through' as the previous title suggests. These large sculptures heralded later geometric 'table top' pieces, such as the present work, as even here in the 8 inch high Three Forms (Extra Eye) the human concern is felt through the addition of an 'extra eye'. Hepworth appealed for interaction with all of her work, regardless of scale, and commented:

    "They are bronze sculptures, and the material allows more openness of course... It has a presence, but it doesn't look at you in the way that a carving does. There is a stronger sense of participating in the form – you want to go in and out.....Maybe it's not big enough to do this, but you don't need to be physically entangled if you've got a pair of hands. If you feel something, you know what the experience is".

    (Ed. Alan Bowness, The Complete Sculpture of Barbara Hepworth 1960-69, Lund Humphries, London, 1971, p.12).

    In Three Forms (Extra Eye) two squares and one rectangle sit in unified balance with each form pierced by a cylindrical hole. As with the monumental works, each piercing encourages viewer participation and establishes a lightness in the otherwise rectilinear design. Tension is created through the individual forms being positioned at angles with an overhanging top element; by placing the holes off-centre and creating a contrast between the highly polished golden exterior and rougher, green patination of the interior. The surface treatment serves to highlight the effect of light falling on and through the bronze, a lifelong preoccupation for the artist.

    By the year the present work was conceived, Hepworth had accomplished much of what she set out to do and was truly considered internationally as a titan of British art, equal to the male contemporaries she greatly admired, namely Henry Moore and Ben Nicholson. She would pass away tragically in a studio fire just six years later rendering this work one of the late highlights of her celebrated career.

    We are grateful to Dr Sophie Bowness for her assistance in cataloguing this lot.
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