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Kröller-Müller Museum honors Barbara Hepworth with a large-scale retrospective exhibition
Installation view.

OTTERLO.- In Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture for a Modern World, her career is mapped out step by step, from her early days as an artist in the 1920s to her period as an internationally-famed sculptor towards the end of her life. Sculptures from wood, marble, and bronze – all unique thanks to the incredible craftsmanship with which they are made – are alternated with paintings, drawings, film footage and photographs of Barbara Hepworth at work in her studio or amidst friends.

Forms in nature
The exhibition shows how Hepworth developed her own unmistakeable 'signature,' drawing inspiration from shapes and forms in nature, sometimes figurative, sometime abstract. Her style was of great significance and influence for the world of modern sculpture.

Outside sculpture
A walk through the museum's sculpture garden, admiring the world-famous Rietveld pavilion and enjoying the surprises offered by the rich collection of bronze sculptures by Barbara Hepworth that the museum owns makes the exhibition complete.

Barbara Hepworth (Wakefield, 1903 - St Ives 1975) was one of the leading sculptors of the 20th century. Before the Second World War she was part of an international avant-garde, and in the 1950s and 1960s she exhibited widely around the world, winning major international awards and commissions.
Hepworth emerged in the late 1920s as a leading member of a new generation of sculptors carving figures in stone and wood. In the nineteen thirties she made her debut in the international art world and became acquainted with the work of Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Jean Arp and Constantin Brancusi. Under the influence of these contacts, her work became abstract. From then on, Hepworth began creating her characteristic organic forms, in which the solid mass is pierced by circles or ovals and the space plays a role in the sculpture. She continued to carve throughout her life, but from 1956 she also made works in bronze which allowed her to produce more and which were better suited to international travel.

The exhibition outlines Hepworth’s development, from the modest stone sculptures of her early years to the ambitious later bronze pieces. It also includes unknown works, such as drawings, collages, photograms, textile objects and designs for theatre sets.

Much of the never previously exhibited material comes from the recently opened Hepworth archive, which includes a wealth of documentation on all aspects of her life and work. From this material, a hitherto virtually unknown picture of Hepworth emerges, as an artist who carefully directed the presentation of her work to the public with, among other things, photographs that she made herself.

Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture for a Modern World takes place fifty years after Hepworth’s last major exhibition at the Kröller-Müller Museum. The highlight in 1965 was the presentation of her bronzes in the Rietveld Pavilion in the sculpture garden. This harmonious ensemble of sculpture and architecture is still regarded as one of the highlights of her oeuvre. The pavilion is included in the exhibition as an ‘outdoor gallery’.

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