Barbara Hepworth, After Dulac (detail), 1921

The Hepworth Wakefield will present two new exhibitions that will offer unprecedented insight into the earliest and latest years in the life and work of Yorkshire-born artist Barbara Hepworth. A must-see for any fans of Barbara Hepworth’s work or those looking to learn more about the artist, the exhibitions will complement the major Barbara Hepworth retrospective at Tate Britain this summer.

16 MAY - SPRING 2016

Hepworth in Yorkshire will focus on Hepworth’s early years growing up in Wakefield, displaying archival material and work relating to her family and childhood.

These will be accompanied by early drawings, paintings and sculpture that show Hepworth’s natural gifts in these areas. Newspaper articles and photography document her early successes and engagement with an academic figurative style that she would soon depart from to find her own artistic voice. Photographic images Hepworth took or commissioned of Yorkshire will be presented alongside these early works, reflecting her assertion that the experience of growing up in this area was hugely influential.

The centrepiece of this display will be a portrait of Hepworth painted when she was 18 by noted artist Ethel Walker, who lived part-time in Robin Hood’s Bay. This work has been generously lent to The Hepworth Wakefield from a private collection, returning Hepworth to her birthplace.

18 APRIL 2015 - APRIL 2016

A Greater Freedom follows artistic developments in Hepworth’s later years, focusing on the last decade of the sculptor’s life from 1965 – 75. By this point Hepworth had achieved international recognition, representing Britain at the Venice Biennale in 1950, winning the Grand Prix at the Sao Paulo Biennial of 1959, and having Single Form commissioned for the United Nations in the early 1960s. These successes afforded her opportunities to explore new ideas and processes.

Hepworth was extremely prolific during her later years, Tate Director Alan Bowness noting that nearly as many works were made during the 1960s as between 1925 and 1960. These later works show experimentation in new materials, working in bronze, slate and printmaking. In 1968 Hepworth noted, ‘while always remaining constant to my conviction about truth to material, I have found a greater freedom for myself.'

Simon Wallis, Director of The Hepworth Wakefield said: ‘We look forward to offering our visitors two new exhibitions that explore new areas of Barbara Hepworth’s life and work as one of Britain’s most significant artists. We will be examining her earliest years in Wakefield and her lifelong connection to the Yorkshire landscape, as well as presenting sculptures and drawings from the final decade of her career, which saw Hepworth at her most prolific. Together with the permanent display of the Hepworth Family Gift - which features 44 of her working models, tools and archives relating to the major commissions for the United Nations and John Lewis Partnership - we have a wonderful offer to complement Tate’s Hepworth retrospective.’

Dr Sophie Bowness, Hepworth’s granddaughter, art historian and a Trustee of the Hepworth Estate said: ‘The Hepworth Wakefield's pair of early and late Hepworth exhibitions promise to be the perfect complement to Tate Britain's major survey, opening in June. The work of the final decade of Hepworth's life is often overlooked and Wakefield's display will feature a beautiful selection of sculpture in a variety of media, alongside her paintings and prints, and will evoke the installations of the period. A highlight will be a group of the late carvings in marble, a material that had special significance for Hepworth and that she gave particular emphasis to in her final years.'

Image: Barbara Hepworth, After Dulac (detail), 1921