Barbara Hepworth

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Dame Barbara Hepworth DBE (10 January 1903 – 20 May 1975) was an English sculptor. Her work exemplifies Modernism and along with her contemporaries in England such as Ivon Hitchens, Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson, Naum Gabo and others she helped to develop modern art (sculpture in particular) immeasurably.


Life and work

Jocelyn Barbara Hepworth was born in Wakefield,[1] West Yorkshire, the eldest child of Herbert and Gertrude Hepworth. Her father was a civil engineer for the West Riding County Council, who in 1921 became County Surveyor. She attended Wakefield Girls High School, and won a scholarship and studied at the Leeds School of Art from 1920 (where she met Moore). She then won a County scholarship to the Royal College of Art and studied there from 1921 until she was awarded the diploma of the Royal College of Art in 1924.[2] She later studied for a period in Italy.

One of her most prestigious works is Single Form,[3] in memory of her friend and collector of her works Dag Hammarskjöld, at the United Nations building in New York City. It was commissioned in 1961 by the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation following Hammarskjöld's death in a plane crash.

Hepworth's first marriage was to the sculptor John Skeaping, with whom she had a son, Paul, in 1929.[4] Her second marriage was to the painter Ben Nicholson. They married on 17 November 1938 at Hampstead Register Office. The couple had triplets in 1934, Simon, Rachel and Sarah; Simon also became an artist. The couple divorced in 1951. Her eldest son, Paul, was killed on 13 February 1953 in a plane crash while serving with the Royal Air Force in Thailand. Hepworth created a memorial to him, entitled Madonna and Child,[5] in the church in St Ives[6]

Hepworth was featured in the 1964 documentary film "5 British Sculptors (Work and Talk)" by American filmmaker Warren Forma.

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