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Summary Article: Hepworth, Dame (Jocelyn) Barbara
From Chambers Biographical Dictionary


English sculptor

Barbara Hepworth was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire, and studied at the Leeds School of Art (with Henry Moore), the Royal College of Art, and in Italy. She married the sculptor John Skeaping (1901-80), and later the painter Ben Nicholson (by whom she had triplets). In 1939 she went to live in St Ives, Cornwall. She was one of the foremost non-figurative sculptors of her time, notable for the strength and formal discipline of her carving (eg the Contrapuntal Forms exhibited at the Festival of Britain, 1951).

Other works include Pierced Form (1931), The Unknown Political Prisoner (1953) and Single Form (1963). Until the early 1960s her works were mainly in wood, including Forms in Echelon (1938) and Group II (People Waiting) (1952). She then worked in stone, producing Two Forms with White (Greek) (wood and stone, 1963) and Three Monoliths (marble, 1964) and in metal, producing Four Square (Walk Through) (bronze, 1966). In all this work she developed a distinctive abstract style involving hollows with lengths of wire or string. Her representational paintings and drawings are of equal power. Created a DBE in 1965, she suffered from throat cancer in her later years, and died in a fire in her studio in Cornwall.

She published A Pictorial Autobiography in 1970.

"Carving is interrelated masses conveying an emotion: a perfect relationship between the mind and the colour, light and weight which is the stone, made by the hand which feels."

- From Unit One (1934).

© Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd 2011

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