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Dame Barbara Hepworth - Upright solitary form (Amulet)

Dame Barbara Hepworth

Upright solitary form (Amulet)

Bronze: 3.5(h) x 1(w) in / 8.9(h) x 2.6(w) cm
Numbered on the base: 2/10

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DAME BARBARA HEPWORTH DBE

Wakefield 1903 - 1975 St Ives

Ref: BR 54

                                               

Upright solitary form (Amulet)

 

Numbered on the base: 2/10

Bronze: 3 ½ x 1 x 2 ¾ in / 8.9 x 2.5 x 7 cm

On a wooden base: 2 ⅜ x 2 x 3 ⅛ in / 6 x 5 x 7.9 cm

Conceived in 1961 and cast as a numbered edition of 10+0

BH 308

 

 

Provenance:

Presented to Stanmer County Secondary School, Brighton by the artist, May 1964

Private collection, acquired from Falmer High School in 1993–4

 

Exhibited:

London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Barbara Hepworth: An Exhibition of Sculpture from 1952–1962, May–June 1962, cat. 67, cast 8

London, Tate Gallery, Barbara Hepworth, April–May 1968, cat. 118, illus. p. 36, cast 0

London, Gimpel Fils, Barbara Hepworth, October– November 1972, cat. 18, cast 3

London, Gimpel Fils, Barbara Hepworth: 50 Sculptures from 1935 to 1970, October–November 1975, cat. 33, illus., cast 3

New York, Gimpel & Weitzenhoffer Ltd., Barbara Hepworth, March–April 1977, cat. 7, illus., cast 3

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

 

Literature:

Alan Bowness (ed.), The Complete Sculpture of Barbara Hepworth 1960–69, Lund Humphries, London, 1971, cat. no.308 p.32 (another cast illus. pl.49)

Matthew Gale and Chris Stephens, Barbara Hepworth: Works in the Tate Gallery Collection and the Barbara Hepworth Museum St Ives, London, 1999, referred to p.226

Hepworth by the Sea: sculptures and paintings 1935–1962, De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill on Sea, 2001, referred to p.11

 

This work will be included as BH 308 in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of Barbara Hepworth’s sculptures being revised by Dr Sophie Bowness.

 

 

Hepworth applied the subtitle amulet, meaning a small object or charm imbued with magical, protective powers, to several works in the early 1960s including the alabaster, Small Form (Amulet), 1960, and the bronze maquette, Pierced Form (Amulet), 1962, which Hepworth translated into the marble, Pierced form, 1963–4 (Tate). In 1968, Hepworth declared that she wanted her work to be ‘a totem, a talisman, a kind of touchstone for all that is of lasting value…something that would be valid at any time or that would have been valid 2,000 or even 20,000 years ago.’[1] Titles such as Totem, Talisman and Touchstone, appeared in sculptures from the 1950s, referencing sacred symbols expressive of fundamental truths. Writing of Touchstone, 1969 (Tate), Chris Stephens underlines the centrality of this idea in the artist’s work: ‘The elevation of the abstract art object as the embodiment of resistance to the materialism of the modern world had been a mainstay of Hepworth’s theory since the 1930s, when its currency amongst a variety of artists was exemplified in projects such as Circle (1937). As the artist told Alan Bowness in 1970, ‘I

called that marvellous piece of Irish black marble “Touchstone” and that is what sculpture

is all about. It’s something you experience through your senses, but it’s also a life-giving

purposeful force.’’[2]

 

Though the amulet works share a piercing set within a wider depression, in contrast to the later works, Upright solitary form (Amulet) and the closely related bronze, Reclining solitary form (Amulet), 1961, possess a highly polished, unpatinated surface and brilliant shine. For Sophie Bowness, Hepworth’s small polished bronzes are ‘characterised by a sensuous, golden finish. They illustrate a new richness in her later work.’ Their reflective surfaces, ‘akin to the high finish achieved on some of her contemporary marble and slate carvings… have a light of their own as well as being highly reflective.’[3] ‘The importance of light in relation to form will always interest me’, Hepworth wrote, ‘Light gives full play to our tactile perceptions through the experience of our eyes’. Bowness concludes, ‘With their brilliant surfaces and combination of sensuousness and elegance, the polished bronzes have a distinctive place within Hepworth’s singularly various later work.’[4]

 

Hepworth enjoyed working on these small-scale or table-size pieces, observing in 1970: ‘It’s refreshing, like painting or drawing.’[5] Highlighting the extensive range and scale possible with bronze, Hepworth also began work on the monumental Single Form (1961– 64) at this time, commissioned for the United Nations building in New York as a memorial to the Secretary General, Dag Hammarskjöld, which confirmed her international standing. 1961 also saw the publication of J.P. Hodin’s monograph, Barbara Hepworth: Life and Work, with a catalogue of sculptures compiled by her son-in-law, Alan Bowness, as well as a BBC film on the artist directed by John Read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] The artist in an interview with Susan Puddefoot, ‘A Totem, a Talisman, a Kind of Touchstone’, The Times, 2nd April 1968, p.13 cited in Matthew Gale and Chris Stephens, op. cit., p.257.

[2] Matthew Gale and Chris Stephens, op.cit, p.257. Susan Puddefoot, op. cit., p.14.

[3] Sophie Bowness, Barbara Hepworth, Polished Bronzes, exh. cat., New Art Centre Sculpture Park and Gallery, 2001, unpag.

[4] Sophie Bowness, ibid.

[5] The artist cited in Sophie Bowness, ibid.

Other Works By
Dame Barbara Hepworth:

Dame Barbara Hepworth - Maquette for large sculpture: Four-square (Four circles)