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Barbara Hepworth (1903 – 1975)


Major British sculptor and artist of the twentieth century.
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Barbara Hepworth
You can’t make a sculpture, in my opinion, without involving your body. You move and you feel and you breathe and you touch. The spectator is the same. His body is involved too. If it’s a sculpture he has to first of all sense gravity. He’s got two feet. Then he must walk and move and use his eyes and this is a great involvement. Then if a form goes in like that – what are those holes for? One is physically involved and this is sculpture. It’s not architecture. It’s rhythm and dance and everything. It’s do with swimming and movement and air and sea and all our well-being… …Sculpture is involved in the body living in the spirit or the spirit living in the body, whichever way you like to put it.
Hepworth quotes
Our sense of touch is a fundamental sensibility which comes into action at birth – our stereognostic sense – the ability to feel weight and form and assess its significance. The form which 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) the two forms (which is the tender relation of one living thing besides another); and the closed form, such as the oval, spherical or pierced form (sometimes incorporating colour) which translates for me the association and meaning of gesture in landscape; in the repose of say a mother and child… …In all these shapes the translation of what one feels about man and nature must be conveyed by the sculptor in terms of mass, inner tension, and rhythm, scale in relation to our human size and the quality of surface which speaks through our hands and eyes.
Hepworth
It is easy now to communicate with people through abstraction, and particularly so in sculpture. Since the whole body reacts to its presence, people become themselves a living part of the whole.




Hepworth Barbara quotes
The naturalness of life... the sense of community is, I think, a very important factor in an artist's life.
Hepworth Barbara
Before I start carving the idea must be almost complete. I say ‘almost’ because the really important thing seems to be the sculptor’s ability to let his intuition guide him over the gap between conception and realization without compromising the integrity of the original idea; the point being that the material has vitality – it resists and makes demands…
Barbara Hepworth quotes
One of the mysteries is how the human mind can hear a piece of music, a symphony from the beginning to the end, before beginning; or see a sculpture finished all the way round, when it doesn’t exist. Now these faculties are the sort faculties which are needed in sciences, math, and medicine and all kind of things. But if one has them, one has to learn to use them… …You can’t start with a block and say: Now it’s going to dictate me’. You (as an artist, fh) dictate to it.
Barbara Hepworth
Whenever I am embraced by land and seascape I draw ideas for new sculptures; new forms to touch and walk around, new people to embrace, with an exactitude of form that those without sight can hold and realize… …It is essentially practical and passionate.
Hepworth Barbara quotes
I have gained very great inspiration from the Cornish land- and seascape, the horizontal line of the sea and the quality of light and colour which reminds me of the Mediterranean light and colour which so excites one’s sense of form; and first and last there is the human figure which in the country becomes a free and moving part of a greater whole. This relationship between figure and landscape is vitally important to me. I cannot feel it in a city.
Hepworth
All my early memories are of forms and shapes and textures. Moving through and over the West Riding landscape with my father in his car, the hills were sculptures; the roads defined the forms. Above all, there was the sensation of moving physically over the contours of foulnesses and concavities, through hollows and over peaks – feeling, touching, seeing, through mind and hand and eye. This sensation has never left me. I, the sculptor, am the landscape. I am the form and I am the hollow, the thrust and the contour.
Hepworth Barbara
Sculpture is, in the twentieth century, a wide field of experience, with many facets of symbol and material and individual calligraphy. But in all these varied and exciting extensions of our experience we always come back tot the fact that we are human beings of such and such a size, biologically the same as primitive man, and that it is through drawing and observing, or observing and drawing, that we equate our bodies with our landscape.
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