Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975)
Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975)

Sphere with Inner Form

Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975)
Sphere with Inner Form
numbered '2/7' (on the back of the base)
bronze with brown and green patina
Height: 38½ in. (97.8 cm.); Width: 36 in. (91.5 cm.)
Conceived in 1963 and cast in 1964
Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, New York (acquired from the artist, 1968).
Acquired from the above by the late owners, 27 January 1969.
A.M. Hammacher, The Sculpture of Barbara Hepworth, New York, 1968, p. 207, no. 136 (another cast illustrated, p. 159).
A. Bowness, ed., The Complete Sculpture of Barbara Hepworth 1960-69, London, 1971, p. 35, no. 333 (another cast illustrated, pl. 78-79; incorrectly listed cast no. 3).
A.M. Hammacher, Barbara Hepworth, London, 1987, p. 211, no. 136 (another cast illustrated, p. 158).
S. Bowness, ed., Barbara Hepworth--The Plasters, The Gift to Wakefield, Farnham, Surrey, 2011, p. 30 (plaster version illustrated, pl. 16).
New York, Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, Barbara Hepworth, April-May 1966, no. 10 (illustrated).

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Brooke Lampley
Brooke Lampley

Lot Essay

Having dedicated the first two decades of her career to "direct carving" in stone and wood, Hepworth turned to metal casting relatively late in her career; she began in 1956 to have her sculptures produced in bronze, based on prototypes she had modeled in plaster (fig. 1). Writing to Ben Nicholson in 1966, she declared: "I only learned to love bronze when I found it was gentle & I could file it & carve it & chisel it [in the plaster version]. Each one is a person to me--as much as a marble" (quoted in S. Bowness, ed., op. cit., p. 31). Hepworth quickly discovered that the versatility and strength of this medium would contribute considerably to the broadening of formal and expressive possibilities inherent in her work, and allow her to enlarge at will the scale in which she could execute it. She was now able to permanently display her sculptures out-of-doors for public commissions, as well as offer pieces in numbered editions, which had the benefit--so well-deserved at this stage in her career--of facilitating the spread of her work and reputation internationally.

"Certain forms, I find, re-occur during one's lifetime," Hepworth wrote, "and I have found some considerable pleasure in reinterpreting forms originally carved, and which in bronze, by greater attenuation, can give a new aspect to certain themes" (quoted in Barbara Hepworth, exh. cat., IVAM, Valencia, 2004, p. 137). The Interior Form seen within the present sculpture displays the classic aspect of early Hepworth--smooth, softly contoured, organically body-oriented--here inserted within a partly open sphere, a shell whose size and thinness, textured inside and out, could only have been successfully executed in plaster cast in bronze. This formal arrangement evokes a richly far-reaching series of imaginative associations: here is the nucleus in a cell, the embryo in the womb, the chick breaking through its shell, the heart in the chest; or philosophically, the self or subjective mind as it exists in the world, peering outward while being perceived from the outside within its personal space, aware but self-contained, a human being sheltered but not shut in. In light of developments in Hepworth's late career, here is a purposeful personal statement of her expansive elaboration of earlier themes.

This Interior Form in fact recalls Hepworth's very first sculpture with a hole, Pierced Form, carved in alabaster, 1931 (Lund Humphries, no. 17, subsequently destroyed). She continued to make use of this idea throughout her career; indeed, it became a signal element in her work. Henry Moore introduced the hole into his sculpture the following year. Jeanette Winterson, a leading British novelist, has written: "There is a particular still centre in Hepworth...focused energy--the still point of the turning world. Perhaps Hepworth had a more complete sense of the hole than Moore. Perhaps that was because she was a woman... Holes were not gaps, they were connections. Hepworth made the hole into a connection between different expressions of form, and she made space into its own form... This is liberating. This gives sculpture a fourth dimension, because we know now that space and time are not separate but have to be considered as space-time...Hepworth's holes are also tunnels or worm-holes making a route through time...The hole is a way back and a way forward...Time is the hole where we begin and end--the womb, the birth canal, the grave in the ground--and it is the Whole where our lives are played out... Put your hand into a Barbara Hepworth hole, and you grasp this" ("The Hole of Life" in Barbara Hepworth Centenary, exh. cat., Tate St. Ives, 2003, pp. 19-20).

(fig. 1) Barbara Hepworth with the plaster prototype for Sphere with Inner Form in her Palais de Danse studio, St. Ives, 1963. The sculptor authorized that this plaster be destroyed in 1969.
BARCODE: 28854647

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