via NYC Plus, VOLUME 1, ISSUE 13, May 1-31 2006:
Eye on Art
Eva Hesse: Material Evidence
By Jerry Tallmer
Eva Hesse, who’d been schooled and had worked as an oil painter, watercolorist, lithographer, sculptor, what have you, felt her art was at a dead end when, in June of 1964, at the age of 28, she returned with her husband Tom Doyle to the Germany where she had been born and from which, at 21/2, in 1938, she had been evacuated to Holland by kindertransport, thus saving her life. [read on...]
via NYTimes, Art Review:
Bringing the Soul Into Minimalism: Eva Hesse
By GRACE GLUECK
Published: May 12, 2006
NOT many contemporary artists have approached the uncertainties and contradictions of making art as resolutely as Eva Hesse. Her challenges to Mimimalism, the reigning movement of her day, while using some of its vocabulary and serialist aesthetic, helped create a genre that went beyond Minimalism's anti-Expressionism and rigidity of form.
Using materials then new to sculpture, like latex and fiberglass, she made work that hung, draped, dangled, looped, drooped, slumped, webbed, protruded breast- and penislike, imitated skin, suggested bodily orifices, spilled or just lay on the floor.
Art that wasn't "art" was her aim. "I wanted to get to nonart, nonconnotive, nonanthropomorphic, nongeometric, non, nothing, everything, but of another kind, vision, sort, from a total other reference point," she wrote in an exhibition statement in 1968.
Unlike the impersonal geometries of Minimalism, her work related directly to the body and its quirks, but also reflected the emotional struggles she experienced in her short life. (Born in 1936, she died at 34 in 1970. Although she did not regard herself as a feminist per se, her adventurous explorations had a powerful influence on the perception of women's and alternative approaches then coming into recognition. Today, gender questions aside, she is viewed as one of the most innovative artists of the postwar scene.
The confluence of two shows, "Eve Hesse: Sculpture" at the Jewish Museum, and "Eva Hesse: Drawing" at the Drawing Center, puts a fresh spotlight on Ms. Hesse, who would have been 70 this year. The sculpture show, assembled by Elizabeth Sussman, curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and Fred Wasserman, a curator at the Jewish Museum, focuses on a pivotal Hesse exhibition, "Chain Polymers," at the Fischbach Gallery — known for promoting Minimalist painters — in 1968. (The name refers to properties of latex and fiberglass.)
Arguably a compilation of her best work, it was her first and only solo show of sculpture during her lifetime, and most of the objects in it — along with some earlier and later pieces — are here.
Ms. Hesse's work reflects, however subtly, her traumatic life story. Born in Nazi Germany, at 2 she was sent for safety's sake to the Netherlands with her older sister. They were reunited with their parents for emigration to the United States, where they learned that Ms. Hesse's uncle and grandparents had died in concentration camps.
Then came her mother's mental breakdown, her parents' divorce, her father's remarriage, her mother's suicide when Ms. Hesse was not yet 10 and, still later, the failure of her own marriage and her father's death before the onset of her losing battle with brain cancer.
An important section of the show, assembled by Mr. Wasserman, is devoted to biographical materials, including her father's moving daybooks that lovingly tracked the lives of his two daughters (the older, Helen Hesse Charash, survives). [read on...]
Eva Hesse in her home and studio at 134 Bowery, New York, 1965. Photographer unknown.
© The Estate of Eva Hesse, courtesy Hauser & Wirth, Zurich, London
"Eva Hesse: Sculpture" at the Jewish Museum
via Artnet, 5/24/06:
EXCELLENCE HAS [NO] SEX
by Michèle C. Cone
Two exhibitions, one uptown at the Jewish Museum, organized by Elisabeth Sussman and Fred Wasserman, and the other downtown at the Drawing Center, organized by Sussman and Catherine de Zegher, honor the memory of the German-born artist Eva Hesse, whose brief career as a New York artist spanned the 1960s. Weighted down by memories of flight from Nazi Germany, by her mother’s suicide, by the social displacement of her father, who once had practiced law in Hamburg, this pretty and intelligent young woman overcame both her middle-class origins and psychological hang-ups. (A room at the Jewish museum is devoted to personal memorabilia, including family photos and her father’s diaries.)
In a macho environment dominated by the likes of Carl Andre, Sol LeWitt, Robert Smithson and Mel Bochner, all of them her friends, Hesse worked her way through a host of influences. The Drawing Center exhibition is about that aspect of her achievement. The Jewish Museum, on the other hand, displays the sculpture that made her famous, not only because of its unconventional materials, procedures and presentation, but most assuredly because of the enigmatic content of its imagery. Despite Hesse's claim that "excellence has no sex," it is difficult not to read the sculptural work as sexually informed, though the sexual innuendos are sometimes remote.
The Drawing Center show is about a promising artist searching for an expression that she might call her own and demonstrating an insatiable curiosity about other artists' accomplishments via drawing. Even her personal signature changes over the years. One can find the painterly line of Willem de Kooning in one drawing, the squiggles of Jackson Pollock in another, the mecano-biomorphism of Marcel Duchamp's Dada work in yet another. Sometimes children's collage elements make an appearance, as also does cartoon imagery, Matta's floating space, Albers' color scale, Minimalist flatness and repetition. "She could draw like a sonofabitch," her onetime husband, Tom Doyle, is quoted as saying, confirming Hesse’s point that excellence has no sex. [read on...]