In honor of International Women’s Day, did you know that the AMAM houses the archives for one of the most-celebrated female artists of the 20th century, Eva Hesse? The AMAM was the first museum to purchase a sculpture, Laocoön, by Hesse, in 1970. In gratitude for its recognition of Hesse’s work, and following the artist’s untimely death, her sister Helen Hesse Charash generously donated the artist’s notebooks, diaries, sketchbooks, photographs, and letters to the museum. These are preserved for research, teaching and exhibition; scholars wishing to view this material may make an appointment in the museum’s Print Study Room.
Photograph of Eva Hesse, c. 1965 Eva Hesse Archive Gelatin silver print Overall: 10 1/16 x 7 15/16 in. (256 x 202 mm) Gift of Helen Hesse Charash AMAM 19220.127.116.11
Currently on show at Hauser & Wirth, through April 24, is a series of small sculptures by Eva Hesse that are essentially fragments rescued from her studio. They are fragile and diaphanous in substance, almost anti-sculptures. A year before her death, in 1969, Hesse wrote of her desire “to get to non-art, non-connotive, non-anthropomorphic, non-geometric, non-nothing; everything…It’s not the new, it is what is yet not known, thought, seen, touched; but really what is not and that is.” Though not quite there, or not quite anything, the works, nonetheless, feel significant and demanding. As Leslie Camhi wrote for the New York Times blog, though the work in the exhibition seem closer to prototypes to autonomous works of art, they are compelling in revealing those familiarly Hesse-ian themes: “plasticity, an engagement with ephemeral materials, the elusive and incomplete nature of memory, and a redolent corporeality.” (via » Go See – New York: Eva Hesse at Hauser & Wirth through April 24, 2010 - AO Art Observed™)