Artist of the Month: Eva Hesse

Artist of the Month (November)

Eva Hesse
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No title (1969-1970)Copyright belongs to the estate of Eva Hesse; courtesy of Hauser & Wirth (see here).

November is a month of struggling. We wake up from October’s slumber to a world cruel and cold. I was having trouble making art and I listened to Benedict Cumberbatch performing Sol LeWitt‘s profanity-ridden letter to Eva Hesse about what to do when this happens: just go for it, create. So I read up on Eva, elusive character that she is. There’s a lauded documentary about her, and if you like her work, you’re probably more “in the know” than not. It’s complex and confusing, centered on abstract concepts like sensuality and mortality in her manipulations of material, tangible things. I wanted to understand her to tap into that, myself. Her childhood suffering and tremendous trauma (see below) shaped all that she did. But Eva went beyond her pain. I wanted to use her strength as a roadmap for attempting transcendence, too. I have so much to pour in but often feel impotent, artistically blocked. I’ll share with you what I’ve found on Eva, what’s guided me this past week to finally do.

Here is her bio, by Artsy:

One of the first to work with synthetic materials like fiberglass, latex, and plastic, Eva Hesse is best-known for her innovative sculptures, dubbed Postminimalist for the time and style in which they were made. Reacting to the rigidity and uniformity of Minimalism, Hesse’s sculptural forms appear soft, slack, and uneven, conveying a human sensibility. A pioneering feminist artist, Hesse desired, in her own words, to “challenge the norms of beauty and order.” Hesse’s painful childhood—having fled Nazi Germany followed by her mother’s suicide—significantly impacted her artmaking, prompting close friend and art historian Lucy Lippard to describe Hesse’s work as a “materialization of her anxieties.” Hesse’s artistic engagement with her own psychology is apparent in her Spectre paintings, where she uses muted tones and a thick and gestural application of paint to create haunting pictures reminiscent of Munch.

The Art Story website has an equally excellent version, which includes a timeline and some of her best works.

One comment

  1. Moselle, I don’t know how you do it. Your description of Hess is so outstanding .I still don’t like her work but you’ve made her interesting and almost understandable. A friend of mine sent me a notice about a Picasso exhibit at the Gagosian that you might enjoy. If I can find her email I’ll send it on to you. In the meantime keep doing what you’re doing because you so it outstandingly well. Much love, Joyce

    Sent from my iPad Joyce Weitz

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