Barbara Hepworth

Dates1903 - 1975

An accomplished carver, Barbara Hepworth was one of the first sculptors to abandon the convention of the single, unified sculptural form. Hepworth often pierced her works, opening them up to light and space, and created sculptures composed of multiple elements. She is best known for her abstract sculptures of stone, wood, and bronze.

Raised in Northern England, Hepworth trained at the Leeds School of Art--where Henry Moore was also studying--and at the Royal College of Art in London. Her early works were figurative: animals, birds, and human forms carved in stone or wood. Hepworth began creating abstract shapes in the 1930s, but never abandoned a connection to natural imagery. She frequently interlaced and ornamented her sculpted forms with holes and introduced string, wire, incised lines, and colored paint into her work.

In August of 1939, on the eve of World War II, Hepworth and her family moved to Cornwall in southwestern England. She ran a nursery and market garden; at night, in cramped quarters, she made small plaster sculptures. After the war, Hepworth settled in St. Ives, a seaside town, where she lived and worked for the rest of her life. A series of solo exhibitions in the early 1950s raised Hepworth's profile. She began working in bronze, often on a large scale, and accepted a number of outdoor public commissions.