Lot 1
  • 1

Barbara Hepworth

600,000 - 800,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Barbara Hepworth
  • Makutu
  • Inscribed with the signature Barbara Hepworth, dated 1969 CAST 1970, numbered 1/9 and inscribed with the foundry marks Morris Singer FOUNDERS LONDON
  • Bronze 
  • Height with base: 29 3/4 in.
  • 75.6 cm


Private Collection, United Kingdom (November 1971)

Marlborough Fine Art, Ltd., London (acquired from the above)

Private Collection, West Coast (acquired from the above in December 1985 and sold: Christie's, New York, November 4, 2009, lot 289)

Acquired at the above sale

Catalogue Note

Hepworth's interest in pagan ritual and totemic forms of her native England influenced much of her sculpture, and the present bronze is an example of how this interest extended even further afield.  "Makutu" is the word used by the Mauri people of New Zealand to describe sorcery or the act of bewitching.  Hepworth has ascribed that name to this bronze ovoid form, casting it as an object with mystical power. For Makutu, Hepworth drew her inspiration from a variety of aesthetic sources, including the monumental work of her contemporary Henry Moore, as well as the organic and elegant stone carvings of Brancusi and Arp. In the last decade of her life, however, her sculpture more consciously took on subjects that related to human history, culminating in her monumental series The Family of Man.

Abstract and decidedly modern, Makutu possesses a distinct beauty and sense of timelessness in its solidity and curvilinear formation. In her aspiration towards universality, Hepworth embraced an abstract mode of expression.  Throughout her career she focused much of her attention on the exploration of three basic sculptural structures – two forms, the closed form and the standing form (as represented by the present work). These elemental configurations allowed Hepworth to introduce both figurative and landscape elements, often drawn from her beloved Cornish coastline, into her abstract art. Towards the end of her career, Hepworth wrote about the meaning that she assigned to many of her sculptures: "Working in the abstract way seems to realise one's personality and sharpen the perceptions so that in the observation of humanity or landscape it is the wholeness of inner intention which moves one so profoundly. The components fall into place and one is no longer aware of the detail except as the necessary significance of wholeness and unity [...] a rhythm of form which has its roots in earth but reaches outwards towards the unknown experiences of the figure. The thought underlying this form is, for me, the delicate balance the spirit of man maintains between his knowledge and the laws of the universe" (B. Hepworth, Barbara Hepworth. A Pictorial Autobiography, Bath, 1970, p. 93). The present bronze is number one from an edition of nine casts.