Born on 10th of January 1903
Died in St Ives, Cornwall
Died on 20th of May 1975
Barbara Hepworth gained public attention, not to say notoriety, during the 1950s for her hollowed out abstract sculptures. With Henry Moore she was largely responsible for dragging British sculpture into the twentieth century. Based in St Ives for much of her life she helped in establishing the pre-eminence of the artists’ community there. In recognition of her contribution to the arts she was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1965.
Born in Wakefield, Yorkshire on January 10 1903, she won a scholarship to Leeds School of Art when 16 and a year later to the Royal College of Art where she studied until 1924. In that year she met her future husband, the sculptor John Skeaping and together they travelled to Italy. In Rome she was taught the technique of carving which was to become her favoured working method.
In 1926 Hepworth and her family returned to London where she renewed her contact with fellow Yorkshire sculptor Henry Moore. It was through Moore that Hepworth met the painter Ben Nicholson whom she began to live with and was to later to marry. Living in Hampstead during the 1930s Hepworth and Nicholson were the centre of a group of artists influenced by the European avant-garde. Hepworth’s explorations of abstract themes in her work were radical for the time and largely unappreciated. This was a difficult time for her and Nicholson to sell their work and the arrival of triplets in 1934 made finances even more precarious. A way out was found in 1939 when the family moved to the quiet fishing village of St Ives in Cornwall where they had been lent a house.
St Ives was to become a centre of modern art in England during the 40s and 50s with Barbara Hepworth as one of the community’s most high profile figures. Prestigious commissions including a large bronze for the United Nations Building (1962-63) cemented her reputation and she was able to work on a larger scale. Despite ill health she continued to work into her seventies but was to die in an accidental fire at her studio on May 20 1975.
internal link Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden
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1 Response to Barbara Hepworth
From Cyril on 5th May 2009
After studying at the Leeds School of Art (along with Henry Moore) she became a major British sculptor working mainly with wood until 1960‚s. Early works include Pierced Form (1931), Forms of Echelon (1938) and Group II (People Waiting) (1952). She was married to the sculptor John Skeaping and later to the painter Ben Nicholson. She was ceated a DBE in 1965.
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