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

Curved Form (Bryher)

Details
Dame Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975)
Curved Form (Bryher)
bronze with a dark brown patina and string
22¼ in. (56.5 cm.) high, excluding wooden base
Conceived in 1961, and cast in an edition of 9.
This work is recorded as BH 299, cast 2/9.
Provenance
with Gimpel Fils, London, 1961, where purchased by Mr Charles Dreifus, Jr., San Francisco.
Horst Jannot, Munich.
with Gimpel & Weitzenhoffer Gallery, New York, June 1979, where purchased by the present owner's father, and by descent.
Literature
Exhibition catalogue, Barbara Hepworth, 1903-1975: 50 sculptures from 1935 to 1970, London, Gimpel Fils Gallery, 1975, n.p., no. 31, another cast illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, Hepworth, New York, Gimpel & Weitzenhoffer Gallery, 1977, n.p., no. 6, another cast illustrated.
A. Bowness (ed.), The Complete Sculpture of Barbara Hepworth 1960-69, London, 1971, p. 31, no. 299, another cast illustrated.
Exhibited
London, Gimpel Fils Gallery, Barbara Hepworth, May 1961, no. 25, another cast exhibited.
London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Barbara Hepworth: an exhibition of sculpture from 1952-1962, May - June 1962, no. 57, another cast exhibited.
London, Gimpel Fils Gallery, Barbara Hepworth, 1903-1975: 50 sculptures from 1935 to 1970, October - November 1975, no. 31, another cast exhibited.
New York, Gimpel & Weitzenhoffer Gallery, Hepworth, March - April 1977, no. 6, another cast exhibited.
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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William Porter

Lot Essay

‘It is difficult to describe in words the meaning of forms because it is precisely this emotion which is conveyed by sculpture alone … 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. Therefore I am convinced that a sculptor must search with passionate intensity for the underlying principle of the organisation of mass and tension – the meaning of gesture and the structure of rhythm’ (B. Hepworth, quoted in exhibition catalogue, Barbara Hepworth an Exhibition of Sculpture From 1952-1962, London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, n.p.).

Conceived in 1961, Hepworth’s Bryher pieces are amongst the most celebrated and striking of her works of this period. Creating two different models: Curved Form (Bryher), the present work, which measures just over 22 inches high and the larger Curved Form (Bryher II), (see lot 7) which measures over 82 inches high. Although smaller in scale Curved Form (Bryher) loses none of its impact or sense of power. Indeed being smaller in size, it allows for a more intimate relationship with the work, with the organic curvular form, cast in a smooth dark brown patina, strikingly set against the taut white interconnecting strings, appearing more tactile than its larger counterpart. Hepworth described the importance of the sensation of touch, which she saw gave life and vitality to her work. She explained, ‘Sculpture affects the human mind through the senses of sight and touch. Sculpture communicates an immediate sense of life – you can feel the pulse of it. It is perceived above all by the sense of touch which is our earliest sensations; and touch gives us a sense of living contact and security. Hence the vital power of sculpture’ (B. Hepworth, quoted in J.P. Hodin, Barbara Hepworth, London, 1959, p. 23).

The amalgamation of space and the harmony of form was of utmost importance to Hepworth, as well as the unification of the figure in the landscape. Hepworth saw that this unification of nature and man was most effectively portrayed through the utilisation of standing, upright forms, which spoke of a human element. This can be seen in Curved Form (Bryher), in which she explores the physical possibilities of a single standing form, utilising the strings to create an added element of tension within her work. She explained, ‘The forms that have had special meaning for me since childhood have been the standing form (which is the translation of my feelings towards the human being standing in the landscape)’(B. Hepworth, quoted in op. cit.).

During this period Hepworth reduced her forms to simple geometric shapes, which highlighted the delineation of line and plane and focused on the interplay between space and light. This is seen to wonderful effect in Curved Form (Bryher), with Hepworth introducing a central aperture to the piece. This allowed space and light to enter the centre of her work, bringing an inner life and energy to her sculpture. Jeanette Winterson explained, ‘Hepworth made the hole into a connection between different expressions of form, and she made space into its own form’ (Exhibition catalogue, ‘The Hole of Life’ in Barbara Hepworth Centenary, Tate, St Ives, 2003, pp. 19-20). Hepworth herself described this process as conveying, ‘a sense of being contained by a form as well as containing it’. (M. Gale and C. Stephens (eds.), Barbara Hepworth works in the Tate Gallery Collection and Barbara Hepworth Museum St Ives, London, 1999, p. 200). In this method a new function of light and space within sculpture revealed itself, and a new aesthetic was born, which Hepworth would continue to pursue with unbound enthusiasm throughout her life. Light now became of paramount importance to Hepworth who saw it as an essential component in the apprehension of space and volume and a primeval part of life. The significance of harnessing light was reiterated by Hodin who stated, ‘The wholeness of the object lies, not … in the roundness alone, not in seclusion from the outer world, but in the penetration of light and air into the closed form, in the new entity of figure surrounding space’ (B. Hepworth, quoted in J.P. Hodin, Barbara Hepworth, London, 1959, p. 19).

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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