Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975)
Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975)
Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975)
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Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975)
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On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more THE COLLECTION OF MORTON AND BARBARA MANDEL, SOLD TO BENEFIT THE JACK, JOSEPH AND MORTON MANDEL FOUNDATION
Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975)

Five Forms with Three Circles

Details
Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975)
Five Forms with Three Circles
signed with initials and dated 'B.H. / 66' (on the top of the base)
white marble
Height: 9 5/8 in. (24.3 cm.)
Executed in 1966; unique.
Provenance
Mrs. J. Levin, New York (by 1971).
The Pace Gallery, New York.
Acquired from the above by the late owners, April 1994.
Literature
A. Bowness, ed., The Complete Sculpture of Barbara Hepworth, 1960-1969, London, 1971, p. 42, no. 423 (illustrated, pl. 143).
Special notice

On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.

Brought to you by

Emily Kaplan
Emily Kaplan

Lot Essay

Five Forms with Three Circles is included as BH 423 in the Hepworth catalogue raisonné of sculptures being revised by Dr. Sophie Bowness.

Carved in 1966, Five Forms with Three Circles demonstrates Hepworth’s clear mastery of this medium and technique. "Carving to me is more interesting than modelling, because there is an unlimited variety of materials from which to draw inspiration. Each material demands a particular treatment and there are an infinite number of subjects in life each to be recreated in a particular material. In fact, it would be possible to carve the same subject in a different stone each time, throughout life, without a repetition of form" (quoted in "Contemporary English Sculptors," The Architectural Association Journal, April 1930, vol. XLV, no. 518, p. 14).
Five Forms with Three Circles reflects the distinctive shift which occurred in Hepworth’s oeuvre during the 1960s and 1970s, as she returned to direct carving on an intimate scale after almost a decade focused on bronze casting and monumental public sculptures. From the earliest stages of her career, Hepworth held a deeply rooted passion for carving, a technique she had first discovered during an extended sojourn to Italy as a young student in the 1920s. She often expressed her enjoyment of the physical process of the technique, the rhythms and motions that occurred in the act of cutting into and shaping the material with her own hands, even the sounds of the stone or wood as it yielded to her tools. She believed that working directly with the material in this way allowed her a more intimate relationship with the medium, enabling her to achieve a deeper understanding of its unique personality.
The device of a rectangle pierced by an open circle dates back in Hepworth’s oeuvre to the 1930s; Paul Nash, the painter and close friend of Hepworth, explains that this motif formed part of the common language of abstract artists like Hepworth, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy (whom she met in 1935), and Ben Nicholson (the artist’s husband). The juxtaposition of circle and square reappears in Hepworth’s work from the mid-1960s and 1970s, both in a series of small marble and slate sculpture and in monumental outdoor works like Square with Two Circles (Kroller-Müller Museum, Otterlo) and Four-Square Walk-Through (Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena). 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 work from the 1960s. During this period, she began to play with more rectilinear geometries, inviting circular shapes to overlap with angular ones and thus creating a conversation between space and form. In the artist’s own words: “The consciousness and understanding of volume and mass, laws of gravity, contour of the earth under our feet, thrusts and stresses of internal structure, space displacement and space volume, the relation of man to a mountain and man's eye to the horizon, and all laws of movement and equilibrium. These are surely the very essence of life, the principles and laws which are the vitalization of our experience, and sculpture a vehicle for projecting our sensibility to the whole of existence” (quoted in Barbara Hepworth, exh. cat., Marlborough Fine Art, Ltd., London, 1972, p. 7).

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