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Art Pick of the Week: Two Figures (1943)

September 16th, 2019

Barbara Hepworth, Two Figures, 1943, redwood, strings, Overall (with base): 61.2 x 31.4 x 21, Gift of Sam and Ayala Zacks, 1970, 71/188, Barbara Hepworth © Bowness

Have you seen any of the amazing sculptures that are part of the AGO Collection? If not, then now’s a great time to visit. From the monumental sculptural work of Henry Moore to the robust pieces by Auguste Rodin, some of the most interesting sculptural work from around the world, including this week’s Art Pick, Two Figures by Barbara Hepworth, is currently installed at the AGO.

Hepworth was a British sculptor born in Yorkshire in 1903. From a young age, she was captivated by forms and textures and decided early on in her life that she’d become a sculptor. She studied at Leeds school of Art from 1920-21, alongside Henry Moore, whose works are featured in our celebrated Henry Moore Sculpture Centre. In 1921 to 1924, the two attended the Royal College of Art.

From the onset of her career, Hepworth was interested in abstraction, but by the 1930s and 40s, her art shifted to focus on the relationships between sculptured forms. We see this in Two Figures, a rich sculpture of redwood and strings, where she explores the dynamics between the two vertical forms – one short and rounded, the other tall and slender. The figures stand in close proximity with one leaning slightly toward the other. It’s hard not to see them as human, yet Hepworth’s challenge was to produce a complex spatial play based on a wealth of seductive curves and surfaces as well as cave-like forms and openings.

A successful woman sculptor, Hepworth was exceptional for her time. Both she and Moore were leading practitioners of the British avant-garde practice of direct carving. You can see Two Figures on Level 1 in the Betty Ann & Fraser Elliott Gallery (Gallery 135).

Stay tuned for next week’s Art Pick.

Admission to the AGO Collection and all special exhibitions is always free for AGO Members, AGO Annual Pass holders and visitors 25 and under. For more information, please visit the website.

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