Barbara Hepworth: The Plasters

ISBN: 9781848220850
Artist(s): Barbara Hepworth
Author(s): Sophie Bowness, David Chipperfield, Frances Guy, Jackie Heuman, Tessa Jackson, Simon Wallis, Gordon Watson
Format: paperback
Year published: 2015
Publisher: Lund Humphries
Publisher Location: London
Total Pages: 208
Illustrations: Illustrated in colour throughout

Artist(s) Biographies:


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Newly published in paperback to coincide with the Barbara Hepworth retrospective exhibition at Tate Britain in 2015, this fascinating book combines a fully illustrated catalogue of the sculptor’s surviving prototypes in plaster (and a number also in aluminium and wood), generously gifted to The Hepworth Wakefield by the Hepworth Estate, with a detailed analysis of her working methods and a comprehensive history of her work in bronze.

The Hepworth’s collection of over forty unique, unknown sculptures are the surviving working models from which editions of bronzes were cast. They range in size from works that can be held in the hand to monumental sculptures, including the Winged Figure for John Lewis’s Oxford Street headquarters. The majority are original plasters on which the artist worked with her own hands and to scale. It was in plaster that Hepworth experimented most as she made the transition from stone and wood to bronze, testing the potential of her new material as she went. Sophie Bowness’s illuminating text describes the different means by which this increasingly important artist made her plaster works, and why.

Drawing extensively on archival records and photographs, this publication is an important source of information about a significant collection of work, the gallery which houses it and Hepworth in general. The catalogue illuminates the histories of Hepworth’s sculptures through fascinating archival photographs, which demonstrate everything from the varied tools used by Hepworth to the logistical problems of transporting her monumental pieces through the narrow streets of St Ives. The book provides a much-needed account of Hepworth’s studio practice, her relations with foundries, and the evolution of her public commissions.


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