Barbara Hepworth 1903-1975

Born in Wakefield, Yorkshire, she studied at Leeds College of art in 1921 and at the RCA 1921-4. In 1924-5 she lived in Italy, and married fellow sculptor John Skeaping. In 1932 and 1933 she and Ben Nicholson (who later became her second husband) visited Picasso, Braque, Mondrian, Arp and Branscusi. She joined Abstraction-Creation in 1933, was a member of Unit One, and befriended Gabo when she and Nicholson moved to St Ives at the outbreak of the Second World War.

During the early part of the war she concentrated on drawing, using some colour. In 1948 she exhibited paintings at Reid and Lefevre, carried out with a mixture of pencil and oil paint, of surgical operations she had observed when her daughter had been hospitalised. Celebrated as a sculptor however, she was selected to succeed Moore at the British Pavilion for the 1950 Venice Biennale. She was one of the few female artists of her generation to achieve international prominence.

Surprisingly her first public commission did not come until the 1951 Festival of Britain, but after Venice an increasing number followed such as the Rietveldt Pavilion at Sonsbeek Park, which would later be transferred to the Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, and for the UN headquarters in New York, which called for a work on a monumental scale.... read more

Barbara Hepworth Modern British 2020 Modern British 2020