Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975)
Property from a Distinguished Private Collection
Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975)

Four-Square (Four Circles)

Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975)
Four-Square (Four Circles)
signed, dated, numbered and stamped with foundry mark 'Barbara Hepworth 1966. 2/7. Morris Singer FOUNDERS LONDON CIRE PERDUE' (on the back of the base)
bronze with brown and green patina
Height: 23 5/8 in. (59.9 cm.)
Conceived and cast in 1966
Gimpel-Weitzenhoffer, New York.
Acquired from the above by the family of the present owner, May 1969.
A. Bowness, ed., The Complete Sculpture of Barbara Hepworth, 1960-1969, London, 1971, p. 43, no. 428 (another cast illustrated).

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Lot Essay

Four-Square (Four Circles) is included as BH 428 in the Hepworth catalogue raisonné of sculptures being revised by Dr. Sophie Bowness.

Four-Square (Four Circles) is one of three maquettes related to Hepworth’s monumental bronze, Four-Square (Walk Through) (BH 433; Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena; Churchill College, Cambridge and the Barbara Hepworth Museum, St Ives). The present work established the fundamental relationships of the forms which can be seen in the monumental version, including the rectangular form of the elements, the slippage between those of each pair so that they project over the base to different extents, and the notable difference in height in the upper pair. To Hepworth, the incorporation of negative space into a composition was a way to negate any perceived hierarchy between mass and space, and to establish a more balanced, intimate relationship between these two elements.
Hepworth had an extraordinary sense of physicality, and much of her creative output draws upon her own spatial presence. Indeed, she has referred to her work as her “own sculptural anatomy,” and this relationship is particularly acute in her bronzes created during the 1960s. During this period, she began to play with more rectilinear geometries, inviting circular shapes to overlap with angular ones, such as in Four-Square (Four Circles). This approach is not unlike the breakthrough abstract paintings created by her second husband, Ben Nicholson, whom she divorced in 1951, but with whom she shared similar artistic goals.
In an interview with Alan Bowness, Hepworth stated of Four-Square (Walk Through): “I wanted to involve people, make them reach to the surfaces and the size, finding out which spiral goes which way, realizing the differences between the parts” (quoted in Conversations with Barbara Hepworth, 1970, p. 12.) Hepworth posed for a photograph leaning out of one of the holes in Four-Square (Walk Through) (fig. 1) and spoke of climbing through the circles of her sculptures: “You can’t look at sculpture if you don’t move, experience it from all vantage-points, see how the light enters it and changes the emphasis” (quoted in E. Mullins, “Scale and Monumentality: Notes and Conversations on the Recent Work of Barbara Hepworth,” Sculpture International, 1967, no. 4, p. 21).

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