- Barbara Hepworth
Galerie Gimpel & Hanover, Zurich (acquired from the above)
Acquired from the above by the late owner in 1975
London, Gimpel Fils, Barbara Hepworth, 1972, no. 11
London, Gimpel Fils, Barbara Hepworth: 50 Sculptures from 1935 to 1970, 1975, no. 25, illustrated in the catalogue
Abraham M. Hammacher, Barbara Hepworth, London, 1968, illustration of another cast p. 152
Barbara Hepworth, Barbara Hepworth: A Pictorial Autobiography, London, 1970, illustrations of another cast pp. 83 & 86
Throughout her career Hepworth focused much of her attention on the exploration of three basic sculptural structures – two forms, the closed form and the standing form, as in the present work. These elemental configurations allowed Hepworth to introduce both figurative and landscape elements into her elegantly pure abstract art. Serene Head (Thea) is undoubtedly abstract in form, however by calling the work a 'head', Hepworth tempts the viewer to look for some representation of a face in the markings on the surface. The incision becomes an indication of facial features and the concavity an eye. Furthermore, the additional title – Thea – recalls sculpture’s ancient roots, putting the viewer in mind of classical Greece. Thea was a Titan and mother of the Celestial deities: Helios, god of the Sun; Selene, goddess of the Moon, and Eos, goddess of the Dawn. Hepworth recognised the important relationship her work had with the Mediterranean in a discussion with Josef P. Hodin, which he later recalled: 'We... spoke about the Mediterranean around which every idea, concept and form, art, myth and religion, philosophy and science of Europe was born, without which we could not exist even for an instant' (quoted in Matthew Gale & Chris Stephens, Barbara Hepworth: Works in the Tate Gallery Collection and the Barbara Hepworth Museum, St. Ives, London, 1999, pp. 226-228).