German born, Jewish and of course, had to be on the move during her childhood in the 1940s, Eva Hesse lived an intense short life. She died at the age of 34. Yet she is the gift that keeps on giving. Like my other favorite artist, Yves Klein, who also died at the age of 34. Both artists, when I look at their work, deals with life as a force to reckon with - it’s not about early death, but living life intensely and correctly. That word “correctly” has a moral tinge to it, and I don’t mean it in that sense. For these two artists, there were choices in front of them, and both made the correct decisions. Hesse had a rather odd and complicated family life - a manic - depressive mother including a step-mom who had the same name as her, but also suffered from brain cancer. Apparently within weeks of Hesse’s actual illness.
Hesse worked in the medium of paint, but also did sculptures using latex, fiberglass, and plastics. There is for sure a substantial argument for and against the lasting of the material she used in her art work, but I feel Hesse knew her art pieces wouldn’t last forever due to the material she chose for her sculptures. There’s a beauty in thought, knowing what you leave on this mortal earth will not last. I often think of her sculptures in that light. There are two works of art displayed in the current exhibition “Revolution in the Making” at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel by Hesse.
|Eva Hesse "Aught"|
“Aught” is four canvases with latex and filler stretched over it. The photograph here (images give a hint of an artwork, but one really needs to see certain works in person) doesn’t show the fragility of the work. Each canvas is different from the other. Either by coloration or the aging of the work. I could be wrong, but the four individual pieces that make up this work of art, I think, would have been identical, at the time they were made.
Marcel Duchamp’s famous large glass art piece, covered by dust, and photographed by Man Ray is another work, that comments on time and how it affects art. Not exactly a decay in the same sense of Hesse’s work, but the awareness of the passing of time, and to me, an obvious reflection or meditation. It seems, when you read about her, Hesse’s life must have been difficult - yet the work she produced, is to me, a delight. “Aught” changes over time, and that is what makes the work so powerful and beautiful. Yet, it’s a work that needs to be re-visited many times. The show has been up for four months already, so I come back to “Aught” repeatedly, and I feel each time I look at it, there is some sort of change - which I suspect it is more how I look at an object or art, but nevertheless, there is something about it that changes. I imagine if you’re the owner, you can look at this work on a consistent basis for decades, noticing a change here or there - but for us (the others) we can only see it for short periods of time. So with respect of time passing, it is not our time that is going by, but the work itself that is commenting on that passage from one point to another.
|Eva Hesse "Augment"|