Evening Sale Lots 10, 11, 12
Dame Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED AMERICAN COLLECTION
Dame Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975)

Involute II

Dame Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975)
Involute II
numbered '6/6' (on the side of the base)
bronze with a brown and green patina
16 ¾ in. (42.4 cm.) high, including base
Conceived in 1956.
This work is recorded as BH 218, cast 6/6.
Private collection, Bermuda, acquired through Gimpel Fils, London, in November 1965.
Their sale; Sotheby’s, New York, 9 May 2007, lot 301, where purchased by the present owner.
Exhibition catalogue, Barbara Hepworth, Zürich, Galerie Charles Lienhard, 1960, no. 3, another cast illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, Sculpture 1961, Cardiff, National Museum of Wales, Welsh Committee of the Arts Council, 1961, no. 18, another cast illustrated.
J.P. Hodin, Barbara Hepworth, Neuchâtel, 1961, n.p., no. 218, another cast illustrated.
Belfast, Queens University, ‘Abstract Form and Life’: Sculpture by Barbara Hepworth and Biological Models, April 1962, no. 3, another cast illustrated, as 1959.
Exhibition catalogue, Barbara Hepworth: An Exhibition of Sculpture from 1952-1962, London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1962, no. 20, another cast illustrated.
W.J. Strachan, Open Air Sculpture in Britain: A Comprehensive Guide, 1984, pp. 230-231, no. 541, another cast illustrated.
Tate Gallery Acquisitions 1982-84, 1986, p. 198, another cast illustrated.
A.G. Wilkinson, ‘Cornwall and the Sculpture of Landscape: 1939-1975’ in P. Curtis and A.G. Wilkinson, exhibition catalogue, Barbara Hepworth: A Retrospective, Liverpool, Tate Gallery, 1994, p. 102.
Nottingham, Castle Museum, Arts Council of Great Britain, Contemporary British Art, May - June 1957, ex-catalogue, another cast exhibited: this exhibition travelled to Southampton, Art Gallery, June - July; Cardiff, Bute Park, July - August; Penzance, Penlee House, August - September; Cheltenham, Imperial Gardens, September - October.
London, Gimpel Fils, Recent Works by Barbara Hepworth, June 1958, no. 3, another cast exhibited.
Leeds, City Art Gallery, Modern Sculpture, October - November 1958, no. 34, another cast exhibited.
Brussels, British Embassy, A Private Exhibition of Contemporary British Paintings, Sculptures and Drawings, Summer 1958, no. 15, another cast exhibited.
New York, Galerie Chalette, Hepworth, October - November 1959, no. 16, another cast exhibited.
Zürich, Galerie Charles Lienhard, Barbara Hepworth, October 1960, no. 3, another cast exhibited.
Cardiff, National Museum of Wales, Welsh Committee of the Arts Council, Sculpture 1961, July - September, 1961, no. 18, another cast exhibited: this exhibition travelled to Swansea, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, September; Aberystwyth, National Library of Wales, October; Bangor, University College, November.
Belfast, Queens University, ‘Abstract Form and Life’: Sculpture by Barbara Hepworth and Biological Models, April 1962, no. 3, another cast exhibited, as 1959.
London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Barbara Hepworth: An Exhibition of Sculpture from 1952-1962, May - June 1962, no. 20, another cast exhibited.
London, Gimpel Fils, Barbara Hepworth, October - November 1972, no. 3, another cast exhibited.
Galashiels, Scottish College of Textiles, Scottish Arts Council, Barbara Hepworth: A Selection of Small Bronzes and Prints, April - May 1978, no. 8, another cast exhibited: Inverness, Museum and Art Gallery, June; Dundee, Museum and Art Gallery, September; Milngavie, Lillie Art Gallery, September - October, Hawick, Museum and Art Gallery, October - November; Ayr, Maclaurin Art Gallery, November - December 1978.
Swansea, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery and Museum, Barbara Hepworth: A Sculptor’s Landscape 1934-74, October - November 1982, no. 8, another cast exhibited: this exhibition travelled to Bangor Art Gallery, November - December, Wrexham Library Art Centre, December 1982 - January 1983, lsle of Man, Manx Museum, February 1983.
Special notice
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Alice Murray
Alice Murray

Lot Essay

Involute II, 1956 was conceived during one of Hepworth’s most prolific and productive periods. Derived from the larger Involute of the same year, Involute II marks a significant point in the artist’s career when she began to work in bronze. This allowed Hepworth to extend her repertoire of forms, granting her the opportunity to create more linear, open and transparent shapes that would have been impossible to realise in stone and wood. It also opened up new possibilities of working on outdoor monumental sculpture, leading the way for celebrated masterpieces, such as Meridian, 1958-60, Figure for Landscape 1959-60 and Single Form, 1961-64.

Hepworth chose to work directly in plaster rather than modelling in clay, using wet Plaster of Paris, which she would build up and work on using a multitude of tools, such as spatulas, chisels and hatchets, and often her bare hands, cutting and carving her forms, before casting in bronze. Hepworth described,‘…putting the plaster on is like covering the bones with the skin and muscles. But I build it up so I can cut it. I like to carve the hard plaster surface’ (A.G. Wilkinson, exhibition catalogue, Barbara Hepworth Sculptures from the Estate, New York, 1996, n.p.). This attention to surface can be seen great effect in Involute II with its rich and sensuous dappled texture, which is highlighted by the deep green and brown patina.

The mid-1950s marked a renewed emphasis on the abstraction of form, as can be seen in Involute II, when Hepworth explored the plasticity of proportions and the tension of form and structure that defined her work in the 1930s. One cannot, however, read these works as purely abstract forms, for Hepworth never disengaged with the emotional relationship she had to the world around her, or indeed to the materials used. Hepworth’s work is at once symbolic and abstract. This can be seen in Involute II, with its curled form being indicative of the caves and waters of Cornwall where she lived, and the spiralled shell forms she found upon the shores. Alan Wilkinson reiterates, ‘Hepworth’s sculptures should be perceived as semi-abstract equivalents of elements of landscape and architecture, and of bodily sensations in relation to them. They are evocative rather than literal representations of the waves breaking on Porthmeor beach, or the rhythmic patterns of Greek mountains and valleys, or the movement and spaces between the columns of the Acropolis’ (A.G. Wilkinson, Barbara Hepworth, Toronto, 1991, p. 22).

This sense of ‘bodily sensations’ was important to Hepworth who believed that one should experience sculpture not only visually, but sensually and spiritually. Hepworth believed that art should have a social conscience and that it should speak of universal truths. She stressed, ‘All my feeling has to be translated into this basic framework, for sculpture is the creation of a real object which relates to our human body and spirit as well as our visual appreciation of form and colour content’ (Exhibition catalogue, Barbara Hepworth an Exhibition of Sculpture from 1952-1962, London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1962, n.p.). Hepworth wanted her sculptures to speak about what one feels about man and nature through the terms of mass, tension, rhythm and scale. Hepworth explained the association curved, closed forms had for her and what one, perhaps, can read into the present work:‘… the closed form, such as the oval, spherical or pierced form (sometimes incorporating colour) which translates for me the association and meaning of gesture in landscape; in the repose of say a mother and child, or the feeling of the embrace of living things, either in nature or in the human spirit’ (loc. cit.).

What is most striking about Involute II is the relationship between form and space, the interior and exterior. Indeed this became of utmost concern for Hepworth from 1931, when she first introduced the notion of the ‘hole’ in her work Pierced Form. From this point on the hole, or aperture became a defining characteristic of her work, which in turn transformed the notions of space and form in 20th century British sculpture. Hodin reiterates the effect that this technique had on her work: ‘A new function of light and space in relation to sculpture revealed itself and she explored it with unfailing enthusiasm. New aesthetic possibilities opened up. Barbara Hepworth exploited the transparence of material in this context, the music and rhythm of lines created by light and shadow and by the boundaries where form and space meet. The wholeness of the object lies, not as with Maillol, in the roundness alone, not in seclusion from the outer word, but in penetration of light and air into the closed form, in the new entity of figure and surrounding space’ (J.P. Hodin, Barbara Hepworth, London, 1959).

In Involute II Hepworth utilises the furled form with its enclosing, folded sides to reveal an open centre, in which light can filter through. As seen in the present work, space is now inseparable from form, with the hollow centre highlighting the tension of volume in space and the delineation of line and plane. Hepworth explained, ‘The carving and piercing of such a form seems to open up an infinite variety of continuous curves in the third dimension changing in accordance with the contours of original ovoid and with the degree of penetration of the material’ (quoted in A.G. Wilkinson, Barbara Hepworth, Toronto, 1991, p. 20). This renewed interest in space can be seen, in part, to be resultant of her travels to Greece in 1954, where she was struck by the ancient stones and architecture she saw there. In visiting the Parthenon she enthused; ‘the space between the columns – the depth of the fluting to touch – the breadth, weight and volume – the magnificence of a single marble and all – pervading philosophic proportions and space’ (Hepworth quoted in A.M. Hammacher, Barbara Hepworth, London, 1998, p. 112).

We are grateful to Dr Sophie Bowness for her assistance with the cataloguing apparatus for this work. Dr Sophie Bowness is preparing the revised catalogue raisonné of Hepworth’s sculpture.

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