London Art@Site Barbara Hepworth Winged Figure

Barbara Hepworth


Winged Figure

Holles Street
Winged Figure (BH 315) is a 1963 sculpture by British artist Barbara Hepworth. One of Hepworth's best known works, it has been displayed in London since April 1963, on Holles Street near the junction with Oxford Street, mounted on the south-east side of theJohn Lewis department store. It is estimated that the sculpture is seen by approximately 200 million people each year.
The new John Lewis store on Oxford Street replaced earlier war-damaged premises. The building was designed by architects Slater & Uren in 1956 and reopened in 1961.
John Lewis originally approached Jacob Epstein to create a sculpture to decorate the plain Portland stone side wall of the new store, but he declined as he was engaged on other commissions. Instead, in May 1961, John Lewis asked six other artists to propose designs. In addition to Hepworth, the others were Ralph Brown, Geoffrey Clarke, Anthony Holloway, Stefan Knapp, William Mitchell and Hans Tisdall. None of their initial designs was accepted.
Hepworth had been asked to express"the idea of common ownership and common interests in a partnership of thousands of workers" and in October 1961 Hepworth had proposed a different design, Three Forms in Echelon, but John Lewis rejected it. One of ten bronze maquettes of Three Forms in Echelon (BH 306) cast in 1965 (nine numbered casts plus one for the artist) is now held by the Tate Gallery.
Her second proposal, based on an enlargement of her 1957 sculpture Winged Figure I(BH 228), was accepted. Related sculptures by Hepworth, such as Stringed Fgure (Curlew) and Orpheus, were also made in sheet metal with rods.
The work stands 5.8 metres (19 ft) high, resembling a boat's hull, with two wide asymmetric wings like blades rising from a small plinth, curving towards each other and linked to each other by a series of radial rods like strings that almost cross at a single point in the middle of the sculpture. Hepworth made a prototype in 1962 in wood and then aluminium in St Ives, constructed from lengths of aluminium covered with aluminium sheets and linked by ten aluminium rods. The surface of the prototype was then textured with Isopon, a polyester resin filler. The aluminium prototype - the largest prototype by Hepworth still in existence - is now held by the Hepworth Museum inWakefield, Yorkshire.
The main body of the final work was cast in aluminium by the founders Morris Singer in Walthamstow, with the rods replaced by stainless steel. It was installed on the John Lewis building on Sunday, 21 April 1963, on a plinth 13 feet (4.0 m) above the pavement. It was refurbished for its 50th anniversary in 2013.
A brass maquette for Winged Figure (BH 227) made in 1957 was sold at Christies in November 2012 for $422,500.
Dame Jocelyn Barbara Hepworth DBE (10 January 1903 – 20 May 1975) was an English artist and sculptor. Her work exemplifies Modernism and in particular modern sculpture. Along with artists such as Ben Nicholson and Naum Gabo, Hepworth was a leading figure in the colony of artists who resided in St Ives during the Second World War.
Early life
Jocelyn Barbara Hepworth was born on 10 January 1903 in Wakefield, West Riding of Yorkshire, the eldest child of Gertrude and Herbert Hepworth. Her father was a civil engineer for the West Riding County Council, who in 1921 advanced to the role of County Surveyor. Hepworth attended Wakefield Girls' High School, where she was awarded music prizes at the age of 12 and won a scholarship to study at the Leeds School of Art from 1920. It was there that she met her fellow Yorkshireman, Henry Moore. They became friends and established a friendly rivalry that lasted professionally for many years.
Despite the difficulties of attempting to gain a position in what was a male-dominated environment, Hepworth successfully won a county scholarship to attend the Royal College of Art (RCA) in London and studied there from 1921 until she was awarded the diploma of the Royal College of Art in 1924.
Early career
Following her studies at the RCA, Hepworth travelled to Florence, Italy, in 1924 on a West Riding Travel Scholarship. Hepworth was also the runner-up for the Prix-de-Rome, which the sculptor John Skeaping won. After travelling with him to Siena and Rome, Hepworth married Skeaping on 13 May 1925 in Florence. In Italy, Hepworth learned how to carve marble from sculptor Giovanni Ardini. Hepworth and Skeaping returned to London in 1926, where they exhibited their works together from their flat. Their son Paul was born in London in 1929. In 1931, Hepworth met and fell in love with abstract painter Ben Nicholson; however, both were still married at the time. At Hepworth's request, she and Skeaping were divorced that year.
Her early work was highly interested in abstraction and art movements on the continent. In 1931, Hepworth was the first to sculpt the pierced figures that are characteristic of both her own work and, later, that of Henry Moore. They would lead in the path to modernism in sculpture. In 1933, Hepworth travelled with Nicholson to France, where they visited the studios of Jean Arp, Pablo Picasso, and Constantin Brâncuși. Hepworth later became involved with the Paris-based art movement, Abstraction-Création. In 1933, Hepworth co-founded the Unit One art movement with Nicholson and Paul Nash, the critic Herbert Read, and the architect Wells Coates. The movement sought to unite Surrealism and abstraction in British art.
Hepworth also helped raise awareness of continental artists amongst the British public. In 1937, she designed the layout for Circle: An International Survey of Constructivist Art, a 300-page book that surveyed Constructivist artists and that was published in London and edited by Nicholson, Naum Gabo, and Leslie Martin.
Hepworth, with Nicholson, gave birth to triplets in 1934: Rachel, Sarah, and Simon. Hepworth, atypically, found a way to both take care of her children and continue producing her art. "A woman artist", she argued, "is not deprived by cooking and having children, nor by nursing children with measles (even in triplicate) – one is in fact nourished by this rich life, provided one always does some work each day; even a single half hour, so that the images grow in one's mind." Hepworth married Nicholson on 17 November 1938 at Hampstead Register Office in north London, following his divorce from his wife Winifred. Rachel and Simon also became artists.