I had to remind myself several times as I went through this that Barbara Hepworth is a sculptor. And, yes, I also found myself using the present tense about her. There’s such a freshness here that this work simply doesn’t feel historical.
Of course sculptors draw, if only to sketch out the basic shape of a piece. What’s remarkable about Barbara Hepworth, though, is that she was able to capture shapes, and especially figures, as well in two dimensions as she was in three. I was also struck by the way her fluidity of line in sculpture is reflected on paper or canvas. You might rightly say that this is obvious but, where she works with recognisable subjects, you can see how she gets to the pure abstract. In very many ways, this book becomes the missing link and explains better than any appreciative piece how she gets from one to the other. If you wanted a primer in understanding Twentieth Century abstract sculpture, this would fit the bill very nicely.
Alongside the many, beautifully reproduced illustrations, Alan Wilkinson provides a commentary that supplies both context and chronology and underlines – if that were necessary – the importance of Hepworth’s work.
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