Published  05/12/2002

Eva Hesse

The short but brilliant artistic career of Eva Hesse is celebrated by Tate Modern (13 November 2002 - 9 March 2003). Born in Hamburg in 1936, Eva Hesse escaped the Nazi atrocities by evacuating with her sister in 1938. Reunited in 1939, the Hesse family moved to New York. Her mother's depression and suicide when Eva was only 10, and then her own terminal illness when she was only 33, led to an unsentimental attitude to art and life, 'Life doesn't last, art doesn't last, it doesn't matter'. 'I can't stand gushy movies, pretty pictures and pretty sculptures, decoration on the walls, pretty colours, red, yellow, blue, nice parallel lines make me sick.'

Hesse broke the mould of convention as much by her attitude to art as by her continual experimentation with new processes and materials. In sculpture, she used string, resin, latex to push the boundaries of art beyond the accepted definitions of figuration or abstraction. She commented, 'The drawings could be paintings legitimately, and a lot of my sculpture could be called paintings, and a lot of it could be called nothing - a thing or any object or any word that you want to give it'.

In 1970, Eva Hesse died of a brain tumour, after three operations and other cancer treatment. She was 34. This fine exhibition celebrates her short life and shows with historical perspective, her remarkable contribution to modern art in the post-war period. It will be reviewed in Studio International in December.

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