Abbot Hall’s summer exhibition focuses on one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century, Dame Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975). Apart from Barbara Hepworth: A Retrospective at Tate Liverpool in 1994, this is the first significant exhibition of her work in the North West for over sixty years. It will contain some of Hepworth’s most iconic sculptures including Stringed Figure (Curlew), 1956, Torso III (Galatea), 1958, and Moon Form, 1968, alongside prints, photographs and ephemera detailing the artist’s life long relationship with the landscape. Lakeland Arts are working closely with the Hepworth Estate to secure key works as well as borrowing from national institutions for this important exhibition.
The landscape provided unending inspiration for Hepworth’s art. From the rough and rugged West Riding landscape experienced in her childhood to the idyllic views of St Ives in Cornwall, for Hepworth landscape was formative, multifaceted and constantly stimulating. She stated ‘I, the sculptor, am the landscape. I am the form and I am the hollow, the thrust and the contour.’ Hepworth’s commentary on the subject is extensive and this exhibition will draw on her words, her photographs and ephemera alongside her sculptures to give a unique insight into what she was both inspired by, and how she contributed to a perception of landscape.
Born in Wakefield in 1903, Hepworth trained as a sculptor at Leeds School of Art and the Royal College of Art. Alongside Henry Moore, Hepworth became a leading figure in the ‘new movement’ associated with direct carving. Hepworth's first retrospective show was held at Temple Newsam, Leeds in 1943, and she represented Britain at the 25th Venice Biennale in 1950. During the 1950s she became increasingly established, receiving several major commissions for public sculpture, including a commission for the Festival of Britain in 1951. Hepworth was an active member of the St Ives School of artists which included her husband, Ben Nicholson as well as Naum Gabo, Peter Lanyon and Patrick Heron. Her international standing was confirmed when she was awarded the Grand Prize at the 1959 São Paolo Bienal