Sunday, 13 September 2015

Barbara Hepworth at Tate Britain

I don't know much about Barbara Hepworth so the latest exhibition at Tate Britain, 'Sculpture for a Modern World', was a chance to find out more. I sort of expected to see monumental works like Henry Moore and that's precisely what I didn't see. Yes, there were lots of works I wanted to touch, to feel their smoothness and curves but maybe I was just expecting the wrong thing?

The first room is made up of a dozen or so small sculptures by a variety of artists and that's what made me puzzled - why show other artists with the same ideas and styles as the introduction to an exhibition about only one of them? Was this meant to show Barbara as part of a movement or just one of a tribe of artists following each other? I've got no idea. I quite liked some of the works, particularly two doves by Epstein, but it started me wondering what the exhibition was about and I'm still not sure.

I didn't see any monumental works but I saw some very touchable works protected by glass and by little signs that said the exhibits were alarmed so no touching. They're all very organic, very naturalistic, and the final room is a reconstruction of an outdoor pavilion Barbara designed for an exhibition in the 60s with the whole thing placed in it's own landscape. The gallery walls and shiny wooden floors made it a bit of an odd room, pretending to be outdoors and one wall covered in a big photo of the edge of a forest, but it was good to walk round a space that she originally created years ago.

I don't think I've learned much about Hepworth or her art. I quite liked her paintings of surgeons at work (an odd subject) and liked most of the sculptures on display but the glass boxes were a bit of a barrier to appreciating them properly. Maybe next time.

And here are the Epstein doves I liked...

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