Barbara Hepworth: Art and Life in 2021

The largest exhibition of Barbara Hepworth’s work since the artist’s death in 1975 will be presented at The Hepworth Wakefield in summer 2021.

This show will coincide with the museum’s 10th anniversary and include loans from national public collections, private collections alongside new contemporary commissions by contemporary artists Tacita Deans and Veronica Ryans. 

Eleanor Clayton, The Hepworth Wakefield’s curator, who is writing a new biography on the artist specifically for this celebration, and published by Thames & Hudson, said: ‘This exhibition will shine a light on Hepworth’s wide-ranging interests and how they infused her art practice. Deeply spiritual and passionately engaged with political, social and technological debates in the 20th century, Hepworth was obsessed with how the physical encounter with sculpture could impact the viewer and alter their perception of the world.’

The exhibition will open with an introduction to Barbara Hepworth’s eminent career, displaying the three sculptural forms she returned to constantly throughout her life using a variety of different materials. A detailed look at Hepworth’s childhood in Yorkshire through archive material and photographs will include some of the artist’s earliest-known paintings, carvings and life drawings as she began to explore movement and the human form. This is a rare opportunity to fully understand her talent.

The exhibition will also reveal the artist’s creative process, drawing on new research from the recently established Hepworth Research Network (HRN), in collaboration with the Universities of York and Huddersfield, into the ways material factors shaped Hepworth’s sculptures and how they related to her broader conceptual and aesthetic concerns.

Image: Barbara Hepworth with the Gift plaster of Figure for Landscape and a bronze cast of Figure (Archaean)November 1964. Photograph: Lucien Myers