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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE LATE ROBERT AND SHIRLEY ROBINS

Three Forms (Tokio)

Three Forms (Tokio)
slate on a black painted wooden base, unique
6 7/8 in. (17.5 cm.) high, excluding base
Carved in 1967.
This work is recorded as BH 438.
A gift from the artist to Mr Robins in December 1967, and by descent.
A. Bowness (ed.), The Complete Sculpture of Barbara Hepworth 1960-69, London, 1971, pp. 44-45, no. 438, illustrated.
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Lot Essay

In Three Forms (Tokio), Hepworth draws together three majestic, upright forms into a conversational grouping which examines social interaction and speaks of her interest in nature and the role of humanity in the natural landscape. The quality of the glossy surface of the slate, which she has honed into perfect sweeps of shape and form, and the contrast of negative and positive spaces therein, convey a sense of monumentality to the group beyond its domestic scale, resulting in one of the most successful compositions that she carved in this medium.

Hepworth encountered slate during a period of experimentation and discovery with coloured, natural stones from around the world. In the early 1960s, she was introduced to a dark coloured 'Heart slate', mined locally, where it had been used in the building trade for many centuries, 'I found out that if they quarried very deeply in the slate quarry here at Delabole they could get a reasonable thickness for me, and a very fine quality - much finer than the top layers which are used industrially. So every time they come across what they consider to be a sculptor's piece, they telephone me. The slates from these deep beds are very beautiful' (B. Hepworth quoted in A. Bowness (ed.), The Complete Sculpture of Barbara Hepworth 1960-69, London, 1971, p. 8). This material preoccupied her throughout the decade, and she created around sixty works in this medium.

Large primitive forms, such as those she saw in the rugged Cornish landscape around her, feature more regularly in Hepworth's sculpture in later decades, as she sought to work on a scale and in a language that could explore the important themes that preoccupied her. The largest pieces in her career came at the end of her life, in compositions such as The Family of Man, 1970, and Conversation with Magic Stones, 1973, in which the emphasis on family relationships and mankind's interaction in the natural landscape, evoke a sense of universality and permanence. The piercing of the form (which she had begun to explore as early as 1932) is particularly pertinent in the largest pieces, allowing the natural world to be observed and to interact with the sculpture, thus bringing a new dimension of experience to viewing the work in the round. In the present work, the quality of the natural surface is particularly enhanced by the possibility of light and play of negative space; the solidity and depth of the forms contrast with a delicacy and openness markedly achieved in the composition, thereby transposing the group onto a greater scale. The themes of absence and presence, connection and distraction, with a sense of monumentality, are evoked by the definitive grouping of the forms in their relationship to each other.

The motif of three forms is a recurring theme in Hepworth's sculpture, after the birth of her triplets in 1934. By 1935, she had carved Three Forms (Tate, London) and she returned to this concept particularly throughout the 1960s as she developed the theme of family relationships in her later sculpture. It is the interaction of themes of humanity and landscape, conveyed to the viewer in the language of abstraction, that defines her work and distinguishes it with a timeless and universal quality.

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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