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Details & Cataloguing

Modern & Post-War British Art

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London

Dame Barbara Hepworth
1903-1975
FOUR-SQUARE (FOUR CIRCLES)
signed and dated 1966., numbered 6/7 and stamped with Morris Singer foundry mark
bronze
height: 60cm.; 23¾in.
Conceived in 1966 and cast by 1968, the present work is number 6 from the edition of 7 plus 0.
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Provenance

Gifted by the Artist to the York Minster Fund Sale
Their sale, Sotheby’s Castle Howard, Sale in Aid of the York Minster Fund, 6th April 1968, lot 23, where acquired by A. D. Ferguson
Marjorie Parr
Acquired by the late owner by the mid-1980s

Exhibited

London, Gimpel Fils, Contemporary Sculpture, February - March 1967, cat. no.24 (another cast);
Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh International, October 1967 - January 1968 (details untraced);
London, Tate, Barbara Hepworth, 3rd April - 19th May 1968, cat. no.168 (another cast);
London, Queen Elizabeth 2 with Cunnard Marlborough London Gallery, A Selection of 20th Century British Art, May 1969, illustrated (another cast);
New York, Gimpel Gallery, Opening Exhibition, March 1969, cat. no.14 (another cast);
London, Marlborough Fine Art, Barbara Hepworth Recent Work Sculpture, Paintings and Prints, February - March 1970, cat. no.6, illustrated p.16 (another cast);
Liverpool, Tate Liverpool, Barbara Hepworth, A Retrospective, 14th September - 4th December 1994, cat. no.74, with tour to Yale Center for British Art, New Haven; and Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (another cast);
New York, Pace, Barbara Hepworth, A Matter of Form, 9th March - 21st April 2018, un-numbered exhibition, illustrated p.50 (another cast).

Literature

Alan Bowness (ed.), The Sculpture of Barbara Hepworth 1960-69, Lund Humphries, London, 1971, cat. no.428, illustrated p.43 (another cast).

Catalogue Note

We are grateful to Dr Sophie Bowness for the cataloguing apparatus of the present work, which will feature in her forthcoming revised catalogue raisonné of the Artist's sculpture.

By the 1960s Barbara Hepworth was at the height of her career. Recognised globally as one of Britain’s greatest living sculptors, she had achieved numerous high-profile public commissions, exhibitions and represented Britain twice at the Venice and São Paulo biennales, winning the Grand Prix at the latter in 1959. As she later recalled: ‘we may have lived in Lands End but we were in close contact with the whole world (Barbara Hepworth, quoted in A Pictorial Autobiography, Moonraker Press, Bradford-Upon-Avon, 1970, p.76). As recognition grew so too did her artistic ambition, pushing forward to create larger scale sculptures. In particular, Hepworth was keen to explore the ways through which viewers could interact physically with her work, writing: ‘I wanted to involve people, make them reach to the surfaces and the size, finding out which spiral goes which way, realising the difference between the parts’ (Barbara Hepworth, quoted in Alan Wilkinson, ‘Cornwall and the Sculptures of Landscape: 1939-1975’, in Penelope Curtis and Alan Wilkinson, Barbara Hepworth: A Retrospective, Tate Gallery Publications, London, 1994, p.108). From her adoption of bronze casting from the mid-1950s onwards, Hepworth pushed the boundaries further in scale and size, with an increasingly architectural approach becoming visible in these forms, as seen in the present work. Although Hepworth was keen in her lifetime to stress that she did not work from maquettes, the present sculpture Four-Square (Four Circles) is one of three smaller-scale works in bronze and slate relating to her monumental Four-Square (Walk Through). This gigantic sculpture – cast in an edition of three and housed at the Barbara Hepworth Museum in St Ives, Churchill College, Cambridge and Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena – allowed the viewer, as the title suggests, to physically explore her sculptural space like never before.

Four-Square (Four Circles) touches upon many of Hepworth’s key fascinations, spanning back to the 1930s, most notably perhaps the piercing of the form, which plays a pivotal role for the present sculpture. As with so many of Hepworth’s post-war sculptures the piercing serves to act as a window or vista, and in the present work allows for a clear line of sight through the piece. This makes the work appear light and balanced. In photographer Jorge Lewinski’s iconic 1968 portrait of the artist, Hepworth is pictured through the hole of the larger version of the present work, her arm reaching though and physically interacting with the work in the manner she hoped her audience would. As Edward Mullins recalled in 1967, soon after the completion of Four-Square (Walk Through): ‘This piece emphasises her insistence that the whole body must be engaged in response to sculpture’. Mullins also recalls Hepwrth herself saying: 'this engagement helps to orientate us – give us an image of security and a sense of architecture … You can’t look at sculpture if you don’t move, experience it from all vantage-points, see how the light enters it and changes the emphasis' (Edwin Mullins, ‘Scale and Monumentality: Notes and Conversations on the Recent Work of Barbara Hepworth’, Sculpture International, No.4, 1967, p.20). Four-Square (Four Circles) must therefore be considered one of the artist’s most accomplished and original works, showcasing her brilliant and unrivaled understanding of form, but also her desire to continue to explore new boundaries and possibilities as she was to do over the following decade and up until her death in 1975.

Modern & Post-War British Art

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London