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Dame Barbara Hepworth - Two forms

Dame Barbara Hepworth

Two forms

Polished bronze: 6(h) x 6.5(w) in / 15.2(h) x 16.6(w) cm
Numbered on the base: 3/10

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BK 10



Wakefield 1903 – 1975 St. Ives


Two forms


Numbered on the base: 3/10

Polished bronze: 6 x 6 ½ x 3 ½ in / 15.2 x 16.5 x 8.9 cm

On a slate base: 1 ⅝ x 6 ½ x 5 ½ in / 4.1 x 16.5 x 14 cm

Conceived and cast in 1962 at Holman, St Just, Cornwall in a numbered edition of 10

BH 318



Mrs Alan Temple, New York, 1963, bought through Gimpel Fils, London

Christie’s, New York, 12th February 1987, lot 147

Stephen Welz & Co., Johannesburg, 30th August 1994, lot 267

Private collection, South Africa, then by descent

Strauss & Co., Johannesburg, 11th June 2012, lot 414



London, O’Hana Gallery, International Exhibition and Sale of Contemporary Art, November 1962, cat. no.19

St Ives, Penwith Society of Arts, Penwith Exhibition, Winter 1962

London, John Lewis Partnership, Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture and Drawings, April 1963, cat. no.15

Zurich, Gimpel Hanover Galerie, Englische Maler und Bildhauer, August–September 1963, cat. 42, cast 9

Galashiels, Scottish College of Textiles; and travelling throughout Scotland, Barbara Hepworth: a Selection of Small Bronzes and Prints, April 1978 –March 1979, cat. 15, cast 4

Swansea, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery and Museum (then travelling to Bangor, Wrexham and Isle of Man), Barbara Hepworth: A Sculptor’s Landscape 1934–1974, October 1982 – February 1983, cat. no.15, illustrated p.11

East Winterslow (near Salisbury), New Art Centre Sculpture Park and Gallery, Barbara Hepworth: Polished Bronzes, December 2001 – February 2002, cast 4

London, Robert Sandelson, Barbara Hepworth, November 2001 – January 2002, illus. in colour, cast 2

Wakefield Art Gallery and Museum het Catharina Gasthuis, Gouda, Barbara Hepworth: Polished Bronzes/Hepworth in Brons: Gepolijste bronzen van Barbara Hepworth (1903–1975), May–June 2003, and travelling until September 2003, cast 4

Valencia, IVAM (Institut Valencià d’Art Modern), Barbara Hepworth, September – November 2004, illus. in colour p.184, cast 4


London, Richard Green Gallery, Nicholson Hepworth Moore, October 2012, cat. 11, illustrated in colour



Alan Bowness (ed.), The Complete Sculpture of Barbara Hepworth 1960–69, Lund Humphries, London, 1971, no.318, p.33, illustrated pl.52



This work will be included as BH 318 in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of Barbara Hepworth’s sculptures being revised by Dr Sophie Bowness.



Hepworth described the 1960s as ‘a fulfilment of my youth.’[1] The variety of surface, scale and material in Hepworth’s sculpture from this period is extraordinary, from African hardwood, sheet brass, iron, copper, slate and marble to polished and patinated bronze. Perhaps the most significant and in some ways surprising development occurred in 1956, when Hepworth began to work enthusiastically in metal, creating sculpture in plaster to be cast in bronze. In the 1930s, the artist’s determined personal and philosophical attitude against modelling (in direct opposition to the rigorous discipline of direct carving with its expression of truth to material) would have made this advance seem impossible. However, as Hepworth explained to Alan Bowness in 1970, carving was also involved in the working of plaster: ‘My approach to bronze isn’t a modeller’s approach. I like to create the armature of a bronze as if I’m building a boat, and then putting the plaster on is like covering the bones with skin and muscles. But I build it up so that I can cut it. I like to carve the hard plaster surface. Even at the very last minute when it’s finished I take a hatchet to it.’[2]


While adopting new materials and creative processes, Hepworth’s sculpture of the 1960s often looked back to the formal purity of her geometric compositions from the 1930s, revisiting the dialogue between two and three part groupings in works such as Two forms with sphere, 1935–6 (private collection). Two forms, 1962, can be seen to adhere to this nostalgic tendency, the beautiful curved, semi-circular forms standing separately, but gently inclining towards each other

creating a triangular void filled with spatial tension. Besides the concave circle at the front of the element on the right, the pair of forms appear to be exactly the same, almost a mirror image, as the highly reflective surfaces suggest. Their warm, golden tonality is exquisite, the rhythmic play of light across the polished exterior mesmerizing. Hepworth counters the lustrous surface of the polished bronze with a block of matt slate whose vertices are repeated at remarkable angles within the shining forms.


In the same year that Hepworth produced the present work, she also created Holed hemisphere (BH 320) and Sphere and hemisphere (BH 319b) both in polished bronze, though on a slightly smaller scale (4 inches or under). She went on to explore this theme further with a series of small, rounded, but often irregular forms in slate and alabaster, entitled Three forms in echelon, in 1963 and 1964. Towards the end of the decade, Hepworth made what seems to be a monumental variation on the theme, Two forms (Divided circle), 1969, casts of which are in the collections of the Barbara Hepworth Museum, St Ives and Bolton Museum and Art Gallery.




Yorkshire 1903 – 1975 St. Ives



Barbara Hepworth was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire in 1903, the first of four children of Herbert Hepworth (a civil engineer) and his wife Gertrude Johnson. She was educated at Wakefield Girls’ High School before studying at Leeds School of Art from 1920, where she met the sculptor Henry Moore. After taking the two-year course in a single year, she moved to The Royal College of Art, London in 1921. Following a post-graduate year there, Hepworth was short-listed for the Prix de Rome and was awarded a year’s travel scholarship. She moved to Florence in 1924 where she married fellow student and winner of the Prix de Rome, John Skeaping in May 1925. They later moved to Rome where Hepworth received a thorough training in carving and began working with stone. In November 1926 they returned to London, moving in 1928 to 7 The Mall Studios in Hampstead. Hepworth and Skeaping held joint exhibitions at the Beaux Arts Gallery in 1928 and at Arthur Tooth & Son in 1930. Their son, Paul was born in August 1929, but their marriage had already begun to deteriorate when Hepworth met Ben Nicholson in 1931. Hepworth and Skeaping divorced in 1933. Nicholson moved into Hepworth’s studio in 1932 and they held a joint exhibition of their work at Tooth’s Gallery that same year and again at the Lefevre Gallery in 1933.


A member of the Seven & Five Society, Unit One and Abstraction-Création during the 1930s, Hepworth began making entirely abstract sculpture in 1934. She also gave birth to triplets Simon, Rachel and Sarah that year. Nicholson and Hepworth were married in 1938, moving to Cornwall a year later, at first staying in the house of their friend, the author Adrian Stokes and his wife Margaret Mellis. Hepworth would remain in St Ives until her death in 1975. During the first three years of the war, Hepworth was unable to carve, though she drew at night after the domestic demands of the day. Her working conditions became easier after the family moved into a larger house in Chy-an-Kerris, Carbis Bay in 1942 and Hepworth secured a studio. The first retrospective exhibition of Hepworth’s work was held at Temple Newsam, Leeds in 1943. She represented British sculpture at the Venice Biennale in 1950 and was commissioned by the Arts Council to produce two sculptures for the Festival of Britain in 1951. Two further retrospectives in Wakefield in 1951 and at The Whitechapel Art Gallery, London in 1954 helped to confirm her Post-War reputation.


Hepworth bought Trewyn Studio, St Ives in 1949 and lived there permanently from 1950 following her separation from Nicholson and their divorce in 1951. In 1953 her first child, Paul Skeaping, was killed in an air crash. Hepworth travelled to Greece in 1954 in an effort to recover from his sudden death. Large public commissions such as Single Form, erected outside the United Nations Building, New York in 1964 helped to confirm Hepworth’s international standing, as did the award of the Grand Prix at the 1959 São Paulo Biennial. She was awarded a CBE in 1958 and appointed DBE in 1965, the same year in which she was elected a Trustee of the Tate Gallery. Along with her friend the potter Bernard Leach, Hepworth was awarded the Freedom of St Ives in 1968 in acknowledgement of her importance to the town. Hepworth died in 1975 as a result of a fire in her studio. According to her wishes, Trewyn studio was opened to the public as the Barbara Hepworth Museum in 1976 and is now part of the Tate Gallery.


[1] The artist cited in ‘Alan Bowness : conversations with Barbara Hepworth’, 1970, published in The Complete Sculpture of Barbara Hepworth 1960–69, Lund Humphries, London, 1971, p.14.

[2] The artist cited in ‘Alan Bowness : conversations with Barbara Hepworth’, ibid., p.7.

Other Works By
Dame Barbara Hepworth:

Dame Barbara Hepworth - Maquette for large sculpture: Four-square (Four circles) Dame Barbara Hepworth - Four forms Dame Barbara Hepworth - Upright solitary form (Amulet)