The Yorkshire gallery has curated the non-selling exhibition which runs at the auctioneers’ London premises in Berkeley Square until August 27.
The show focuses on works produced from 1960 onwards and includes examples rarely lent from the Wakefield gallery, located in the birthplace of the sculptor.
Hepworth said in 1971: “I don’t think anyone realises how much the last ten years has been a fulfilment of my youth.” However, works from Hepworth’s late period are comparatively little-known compared with her earlier output, despite the fact that she was highly prolific during her later years.
Alan Bowness, director of the Tate Gallery from 1980-1988, noted that “there are almost as many sculptures (made by Hepworth) since 1960 as there were in the preceding thirty-five years.”
Hepworth’s granddaughter Dr Sophie Bowness, who is an art historian and a trustee of the Hepworth Estate, said: “The work of the final decade of her life is often overlooked but this exhibition will feature a beautiful selection of sculptures in a variety of media. 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.”
Indeed, in the last 15 years of her life, Hepworth made many works in marble, a material she had been drawn to since the 1920s but had not always been able to afford. She also experimented with new materials during her later period such as slate and also started making prints.
The exhibition at Phillips is a rare opportunity to see the three series of lithographs and screenprints that Hepworth made at this time displayed alongside the sculptures to which they relate.
Public and Commercial Partnership
A key part of the marketing of the exhibition focuses on the fact that it represents a collaboration between the public and commercial sectors.
For Phillips, the show is part of their project to promote their brand through a “worldwide programme of arts partnerships with the world’s leading art galleries and museums”. The fact that Hepworth’s reputation and commercial value have greatly expanded in the last five years is not coincidental.
For the Hepworth Wakefield, the exhibition is a chance to show their growing collection in a central London location. Director of gallery Simon Wallis said: “The best partnerships are those where there is a shared passion – in this instance bringing major works of art from our superb collection held at The Hepworth Wakefield in the heart of Yorkshire to Phillips’ beautifully designed central London location. Our partnership enables a broad new audience to experience these fine examples of Barbara Hepworth’s late works.”
Ed Vaizey, former UK cultural minister, said when the exhibition was first announced: “This innovative partnership between a highly successful auction house and a leading public art gallery exemplifies the sort of new business model the culture sector needs. It is wonderful to see private funds generated from the art market going back into supporting a regional gallery such as The Hepworth Wakefield which does so much to foster new creative talent and engage audiences with modern and contemporary art.”