She died at age 34. Yet during her short lifetime Eva Hesse made a lasting impact on the art world. I had little familiarity with Hesse, having seen but one sculpture at MoMA.
I learned about this fascinating woman, and her work, from the documentary Eva Hess R Film By Marcie Begleiter.
Sent by their parents on a Kindertransport, Hesse, aged two, and her older sister Helen, left their native Germany during the rise of Nazism. They were later joined by their parents, eventually settling in New York. Hesse was schooled in American abstract painting and commercial design practices. She originally pursued a career in commercial textile design, but eventually her practice as an expressionist painter led her to increasingly experiment with industrial and every-day, or “found” materials, such as rope, string, wire, rubber, and fiberglass. While she’s best known for her sculptures, Hesse also painted and created “combos.” Some of her artwork can be seen now at the Met Breuer, MoMA, the Drawing Center and the Jewish Museum.
The movie is playing at the Film Forum through May 10th and it’s really worth seeing.