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New Research by Renowned Eva Hesse Scholar Results in Exhibition at the Fruitmarket Gallery
Eva Hesse Studiowork, 1968. Courtesy of University of California, Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive, gift of Helen Hesse Charash, 1979. Photo: Abby Robinson, New York.
EDINBURGH. The Fruitmarket Gallery’s 2009 Edinburgh Art Festival exhibition is a solo presentation of the work of German-born American artist Eva Hesse, a major figure in post-war art. The exhibition is the result of new research by renowned Hesse scholar Professor Briony Fer and is curated by Fer and Barry Rosen, Director of The Estate of Eva Hesse.

Throughout her career, Eva Hesse produced a large number of small, experimental works alongside her large-scale sculpture. These objects, the so-called test pieces, were made in a wide range of materials, including latex, wire-mesh, sculp-metal, wax and cheesecloth. This exhibition proposes that rather than simply technical explorations, these small objects radically put into question conventional notions of what sculpture is. Re-naming them studioworks rather than test pieces, the exhibition and the accompanying major publication offer a timely new interpretation of Hesse’s historical position, as well as highlighting her relevance for contemporary art now.

The exhibition addresses the visceral sensuality of the small pieces in the light of what it means for an artist to make work, and the ways in which the processes of making translate to the viewing encounter. It brings together around fifty sculptures drawn from major public and private collections around the world. Hesse’s sculptures are extremely fragile and rarely travel. Many of these works have never left the collections to which they belong, and several have never been exhibited before. Although previously the test pieces and small works were considered peripheral to the major work, this exhibition argues that, as well as being beautiful and meaningful objects in their own right, they force us to ask fundamental and pressing questions, not just about what an artwork is, but about the work that art does in our culture.

Fiona Bradley, Director of The Fruitmarket Gallery, said: We are extremely excited to be able to show Eva Hesse’s work in Scotland for the first time in this important, scholarly re-appraisal of her practice. Hesse is a crucially important figure in art history, and we are confident that this rare opportunity to see her sculpture will delight both art and non-art audiences.

Fruitmarket Gallery | Eva Hesse | latex | wire-mesh | sculp-metal | wax | cheesecloth. |

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