BARBARA HEPWORTH sculptures which were previously thought to have been “lost” will go on display in a new major retrospective on the Yorkshire artist.
Curators want the Tate Britain show to restore Hepworth’s international reputation, which has long been overshadowed by her famous Yorkshire contemporary, Henry Moore.
Hepworth died in 1975, aged 72. Her home city of Wakefield now houses a gallery named after her.
Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture For A Modern World will feature works which experts have “always wanted to find” but were “thought to have been lost”.
They include the alabaster sculpture Figure (1933), whose whereabouts had been unknown since the 1960s but was found in a private collection by curators putting together the new show.
It will also feature Contemplative Figure (1928) which was discovered in a house in the affluent Pacific Palisades area of California.
Tate Britain’s director Penelope Curtis, who is co-curating the exhibition, said: “Works that we looked for 10 or 20 years ago have now re-emerged...in different places around the world.”
Co-curator Chris Stephens said that sculptures which would have taken five years to track down “or not” before the age of digital media, could now be discovered in weeks.
“Twenty years ago it would have been a very convoluted and difficult route to trace, if at all possible. Now, through digital media, it’s not easy but it is possible,” he said.
“With these lost works, we knew that they existed somewhere but we didn’t know where they were.”
The show, which will feature 70 works by the artist, aims to take Hepworth’s reputation “out of that slightly comfortable St Ives, warm cocoon of nature, sea, beaches and lovely carvings and show her as someone more vigorous, more intellectual”, Ms Curtis said.
One reason why Hepworth may have been linked, in a “belittling” fashion, to Cornwall, where she lived from 1939 until her death in 1975, was “because she’s a woman”, Ms Curtis said.
“Rather unlike Henry Moore she has been very much tied to Cornwall or to Yorkshire (where she was born) in a way that Henry Moore never has been to Hertfordshire,” she added.
“We really want to place her on not just a national but an international stage.”
Curators said that Hepworth, whose sculpture, Two Forms (Divided Circle) was stolen by suspected scrap metal thieves from its plinth in Dulwich Park in 2011, had become “newly relevant” to younger artists.
The show, the first major London exhibition on Hepworth since 1968, will feature her stone and wood carvings, as well as bronzes, seven of which are “monumental” in scale.
Wood carvings include the work Hepworth made after she recuperated in Greece following the death of her RAF pilot son, after she received a large, unexpected delivery of tropical hardwood.
It will also feature her work with artist husband Ben Nicholson in the early 1930s, sculptures from just before the Second World War and the photographs and films of her creations.
Mr Stephens said of Hepworth: “I think the comparison with Henry Moore is unfortunate because they’re quite different artists. Her work is more refined, more abstract.”
“Her (international) status which was recognised in her lifetime, needs to be reasserted.”
After opening in Tate Britain, the show will tour to the Kroller-Muller Museum in the Netherlands and to the Arp Museum in Germany.
Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture For A Modern World runs from June 24 to October 25 at Tate Britain.