Eva Hesse, ‘Untitled’, 1956, Phillips

From the Catalogue:
“A painting can only be as much as its creator, a mirror of himself, not merely an outburst of an emotion or mood...The essential forces directing me presently are motivated by the desire of being a painter. The word painter connotes significant meaning, a way of approaching life, living fully not merely existing. A painting must be approached with fully awakened eyes and mind.”
Eva Hesse

Eva Hesse’s brilliant and tragically brief career is most often examined in the context of her work as a post-minimalist sculptor, whose highly charged and evanescent forms evoke deeply personal and emotional responses despite their industrial material. However, as is clear in her diary entries from 1957, Hesse, at least early on, was driven by her desire to paint. Executed in 1956, just a year prior to this entry, this Untitled work is emblematic of her motivations as an artist and her conception of the power of painting. The luscious, organic blues, greens, taupes, and ochres shot through with brilliant splashes of orange and red, display an unbelievable vivacity and eroticism that would become such a hallmark of her work in latex. Indeed, those latex pieces, in which Hesse subverted the medium’s intended application as a cast material, were painted up, layer upon layer, imbuing them with her psychological and physical self. Her early paintings, of which Untitled is a particularly detailed and vibrant example, served to support Hesse’s belief in the primacy of the tactile – an emotional engagement with the object that would activate and elevate her practice and its position within the postwar canon. “The degree to which I become a ‘painter’ is synonymous with what I make of myself as a person.” (Eva Hesse, quoted in, Barry Rosen, ed., Eva Hesse: Diaries, New Haven, 2016, p. 95)
Courtesy of Phillips

Signature: signed and dated "eva hesse 56" lower right; further signed "EVA HESSE" on the reverse

Renate Petzinger and Barry Rosen, eds., Eva Hesse Catalogue Raisonné Volume I: Paintings, New Haven, 2006, no. P19, pp. 56-57 (illustrated, p. 57)

Ellis B. Haizlip, New York (acquired directly from the artist)
Private Collection (acquired from the above in 1960)
Sotheby’s, New York, November 15, 2006, lot 120
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

About Eva Hesse

One of the first to work with synthetic materials like fiberglass, latex, and plastic, Eva Hesse is best-known for her innovative sculptures, dubbed Postminimalist for the time and style in which they were made. Reacting to the rigidity and uniformity of Minimalism, Hesse’s sculptural forms appear soft, slack, and uneven, conveying a human sensibility. A pioneering feminist artist, Hesse desired, in her own words, to “challenge the norms of beauty and order.” Hesse’s painful childhood—having fled Nazi Germany followed by her mother's suicide—significantly impacted her artmaking, prompting close friend and art historian Lucy Lippard to describe Hesse’s work as a “materialization of her anxieties.” Hesse’s artistic engagement with her own psychology is apparent in her Spectre paintings, where she uses muted tones and a thick and gestural application of paint to create haunting pictures reminiscent of Munch.

American, 1936-1970, Hamburg, Germany, based in New York, New York

Solo Shows

2014
Austin,
Converging Lines: Eva Hesse & Sol LeWitt

Fair History on Artsy

2015
Richard Gray Gallery at Expo Chicago 2015
2015
Richard Gray Gallery at Art Basel 2015
2015
Armand Bartos Fine Art at The Armory Show 2015
2013
New York,
Armand Bartos Fine Art at The Armory Show 2013