Art@Site Barbara Hepworth Rock Form, Porthcurno Philadelphia

Barbara Hepworth


Rock Form, Porthcurno

Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Rock Form (Porthcurno) is an upright standing form, with a narrow base widening out towards the top, which itself is flat. The edges of the sculpture are curved and the form is punctured by several curvilinear openings, the inner surfaces of which are smooth and hold a warm golden patina, which contrasts with the green patina of the rough outer surfaces. The sculpture reflects Hepworth’s on-going interest in the relationship between landscape and human experience. The artist took her inspiration from the rock forms near Porthcurno, a hamlet close to Land’s End in Cornwall, 'with its queer caves pierced by the sea'.
Barbara Hepworth had a prosperous career within the modernist movement in England. She produced both of the Museum’s examples at a time when an increased demand for her work led her away from stone sculpture to bronze. Her career-long interest in organic, non-human forms remains in both Four Square (Walk Through) and Rock Form (urno). Whereas Rock Form (Porthcurno) retains the curving planes of much of her work, Four Square (Walk Through) is crafted with a hard geometry characteristic of her late sculpture. In both sculptures, Hepworth embarks on an exploration of the interior of the three-dimensional works. By inviting the viewer to visually walk through her pieces, she breaks open the concept of sculpture in the round, an exploration that exists as one of her major contributions to modernist sculpture.
Henry Moore famously called 1932 'the year of the hole;' but his friend and colleague, Barbara Hepworth, who made this sculpture, first explored the void—or empty space—as a significant inspiration for her art. The year before she had created a splash with an alabaster piece pierced in the center, and her use of emptiness, or so-called 'negative space,' became the hallmark of her style.
Three large holes penetrate Rock Form (Porthcurno), created over three decades later, and named afn the coast of Cornwall, near the artist’s residence. It echoes the region’s rugged, sea worn terrain while deftly exploring open and closed form within a gently curving plane. Hepworth captures the shape and texture of Porthcurno’s dramatic rock formations, hollowed out over centuries by water, wind, and sand. She wrote about her intense identification with objects in the natural landscape:
Barbara Hepworth: 'From a sculptor’s point of view one can either be the spectator of an object or the object itself. For a few years I became the object. I was the figure in the landscape, and every sculpture contained to a greater or lesser degree the ever-changing forms and contours embodying my own response to that landscape.'
One of the 20th century’s most eminent sculptors, Dame Barbara Hepworth created abstract works influenced by natural shapes. This bronze is based on rock forms around Porthcurno, a village near her studio in Cornwall, England. Sever are located at sites around the world, including the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, Scotland, and the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, CA.
Dame Barbara Hepworth was one of the 20th century’s most eminent sculptors. Based on rock forms around Porthcurno, a village near Hepworth’s studio in England. Hepworth created abstract works influenced by natural shapes.
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, wh921 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 Hert 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 min" 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. St Ives
Hepworth lived in Trewyn Studios in St Ives from 1949 until her death in 1975.] She said that "Finding Trewyn Studio was sort of magic. Here was a studio, a yard, and garden where I could work in open air and space." Hepworth was also a skilled draughtsperson. After her daughter Sarah was hospitalised in 1944, she struck up a close friendship with the surgeon Norman Capener. At Capener's invitation, she was invited to view surgical procedures and, between 1947 and 1949, she produced nearly 80 drawings of operating rooms in chalk, ink, and pencil. Hepworth was fascinated by the similarities between surgeons and artists, stating: "There is, it seems to me, a close affinity between the work and approach of both physicians and surgeons, and painters and sculptors." Death of son Paul
Her eldest son Paul was killed on 13 February 1953 in a plane crash while serving with the Royal Air Force in Thailand. A memorial to him, Madonna and Child, is in the parish church of St Ives. Exhausted, in part from her son's death, Hepworth travelled to Greece with her friend Margaret Gardiner in August 1954. They visited Athens, Delphi and many of the Aegean Islands. Between 1954 and 1956 Hepworth sculpted six pieces out of guarea wood, many of which were inspired by her trip to Greece, such as Corinthos (1954) and Curved Form (Delphi) (1955).