Fragments of Barbara Hepworth


A fluid organic form stands among the green landscape. The extending posture goes up in the sky like bubbles in a continuous detaching and fusing cycle. The sculptures of Barbara Hepworth usually stand still in nature. No matter how big they are, they never block any of their surroundings, not the air, not the time.


Barbara Hepworth is the first artist who merges “landscape” into sculptures; Before the mid-20th century with her contributing activities, there were no such a concept in world. Her saying, “I, the sculptor, am the landscape.” undoubtedly reveals her desire to fuse with the scenic creature in nature indeed.

そう思わせたのは、アトリエを構え、長く住んだイギリス南西部セント・アイヴズの美しい自然に魅せられたからかもしれない。入江や洞窟、崖と、場所によってまったく異なる表情を見せるコーンウォールの海岸に心を奪われて。彫刻に空いた大きな丸い穴は、彼女にとっての月や太陽を表す。月の輝く夜には、アトリエからすぐの海岸で刻々と変化する光をじっと眺めていた。多くの作品に見られるブルーやグリーンの色は、セント・アイヴズの月夜の海であり、日の出のグラデーショ ンでもあった。

Maybe her desire stemmed from her long dwelling history in the splendid nature of St. Ives in southwest of the United Kingdom. Her atelier is also located there, her heart is strongly hooked by the different expressions Cornwall presented through various angles from its fleets, caves, and cliffs. The huge round hole in her sculpture symbolizes the sun and the moon. She simply loves gazing at her surroundings through the spectacular night under the glittering moon at her atelier, which is right next to a shore. In fact, green and blue are employed in many of her works, and they are, the gradation of the sunrise and sparkling sea under the moonlight at St. Ives.


The sculpture is much taller than mankind. Still, it gently, subtly, and warmly embraces its audience. She first did wooden sculptures then stone, which changed to bronze later. This blissful encounter with bronze has brought us a unique form from the bottom blossoming up toward the top. She also has a lot of paintings. She has been impressed and touched by physicians’ hands operating surgeries, and thus hers could demonstrates somehow a different type of power from that in sculptures. In pictures, their hands create harmonies, and that pulls the goal closer and closer. She has created a huge number of sculptures, and she is like a sculpture as well, for her great hands stand out from shadows.


Meeting Henry Moore at an art school in Leeds was like a destiny- since then they then stayed together like an alliance for a long time. They worked and grew up together; they encouraged each other and perfected each other. Naum Gabo, their close partner, later upheld constructivism in 1920 that helped to thrive the whole world of art. Both Moore and Hepworth admired the concept, while the determining difference is that Hepworth stayed affirmative to nature and she remained pure whatever the directions she opted.


Her mind is free from negativity because she is hooked to the beauty of nature, and she is fully embraced that she innocently pursues the happiness of it. Her pure and persisting conviction in nature is closely linked to the round shapes and curves in her works.


She has a son in her first marriage. Later, she was remarried to Ben Nicholson with three more children. Under the influence of that her work transcended from single forms to two that leaning towards each other, or even groups. Unfortunately, her son passed away in an aircraft accident and she went to Greece to heal her heart. She then learnt about philosophy, sceneries illuminated by fire, and plays- all became motivations of her creation.


In despite of the tragedies and pains in her life, Hepworth stayed active and doing things as an artist until she died in the age of 72. She made through the hardship as a female sculptor in the 20th century all because of her strong mentality. Transforming even solitude to artistic creation, Hepworth was a truly graceful and exceptional woman artist.