Eva Hesse

This article is from 2009.

How late German-born US sculptor downsized with some distinction

‘You must begin making small things, so that starts a cycle going … doing begins things and it continues,' wrote Eva Hesse in one of the many notebooks during her 1960s heyday, revealing how fundamental experimentation was to her practice. Though the American sculptor is highly renowned for her large-scale art, none of it would have been possible without her self-named 'test pieces', trial and error works exploring the physicality of latex, wire mesh, sculpt metal and wax.

For Hesse, these creations were no more than playful maquettes which pushed materials around, so the late sculptor may never have envisioned this exhibition, consisting entirely from such small studies.

But the guest curators – scholar Briony Fer and director of the estate of Eva Hesse Barry Rosen – have reassessed the historical reception of these small sculptures, renaming them 'studioworks' to give them as much importance and gravitas as the larger works. Many of these pieces have never been exhibited before and certainly none of them in Scotland. The curators draw much needed attention to these rare and fragile objects, making this exhibition an important contribution to the debate on modern sculpture.

Fruitmarket Gallery, Market Street,
0131 225 2383, 5 Aug–25 Oct, free.

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