This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of paintings by Eva Hesse to be published by the Museum Wiesbaden in 2003.
"It's good to be what one is. In fact, the more I'm me, the better I would paint as then it can only be mine as no one else is me... I still agonise about my painting but at least now the agony is in and about work. And if I work that will probably change into another kind of feeling. And if it remains it is better placed there than back into myself." (Eva Hesse diary note, 1 July 1964, in: L. Lippard, Eva Hesse, New York 1976, p. 25.)
With its disparate forms, empty white spaces and disjunctive and somewhat erotic conglomerations of semi-mechanical parts, Untitled reflects the new departure in Hesse's work that took place after her move to Germany in June 1964. Setting up a studio with her husband Tom Doyle in an abandoned textile factory in Kettwig, a district of Essen, Hesse's painting underwent a fundamental and necessary change, one that by the end of the year would lead to the creation of her first reliefs.
During her fifteen-month stay in Germany, Hesse was exposed to numerous new influences, many of which came to be reflected in her painting. Among the first of these was the work of Cy Twombly which she had first seen at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York in the spring of the same year. In Germany, in addition to visiting the documenta III, Hesse also accompanied Doyle to Switzerland for an exhibition of his sculptures where she met Jean Tinguely and visited the Hommage à Duchamp exhibition. The playful eroticism of these artists' works, along with the organic quality she so admired in Arshile Gorky's abstraction, evidently played an important role in the creation of the new forms that began to appear in the paintings that Hesse began in Kettwig.
Hesse herself referred to the new forms of her work as "impossible machines" and "impossible space". Her ultimate aim was to create a new vision. "I wanted to get to non art", she later recalled, "non connotive, non anthropomorphic, non geometric, non nothing, everything but of another kind, vision, sort; from a total other reference point." Using the machine parts and other "junk" that she found around the new studio as her starting point, Hesse began to articulate in paint and using the crude colours of her husbands sculptures, the outlines of the bizarre world that her later sculptures would define. Strange forms seem to develop personal, intimate and often erotic relations with one another amidst an all-pervasive white background. They both emerge from and are seemingly concealed by her use of paint, as if she were delineating the constant flux of becoming and disintegrating in the universe. A major step away from the box-like forms of earlier in the year, Untitled is a part of a small group of important paintings that begin to make clear the hauntingly erotic surrealism of the brightly coloured reliefs she would produce at the end of the year.