Eva Hesse

Eva Hesse was a minimalist Post-modern artist active in the sixties and seventies who experimented with geometrical forms, repetition, and the concept of ephemerality. She steered away from the use of "traditional" art materials like oil paints and charcoal, and used instead industrial materials like sheets of steel and metal piping. Ironically the materials she used poisened her body over the years and led to her early death. Maybe artists are depressed loners because all of our role models died before they turned forty or killed themselves...
Anywho, Hesse was heavily influenced in her youth by the Gutai movement. This movement started in Japan and expressed that there is a power and a spirit in all the materials an artist uses, and that by manipulating the object or tool we only dull that spirit. Basically that we do not need to change an object for it to be art. Their art also focused on traces, like footprints on a beach or an tire tracks in the mud. This lead to many artists using their own bodies so that the process of creation, not the finished product, became the subject of art. For example, in a famous Gutai piece the artist stripped naked and crawled through the mud, the trace of his body. Movements such as this eventually gave way to what is known as performance art. But back to Eva:
She chose to work with materials that were not ephemeral, her pieces were not meant to last forever. Because she was influenced by the Gutai movement her pieces often look only half finished, or look like they were stolen from a gutted building and left on a stage. She also experimented with repetition, so many of her pieces are circles or other shapes repeated on a page, or identical shapes built and left randomly on a floor.
Her titles were inventive and she often researched latin orgins and created her own words so that she could express exactly what she wanted to by her titles. She said that the power of her pieces was the art and because that was not her production she did not have to work on them alone. She often had her students or her lovers help her construct and paint things and she said that at every stage they left the work at, it made a statement. This leads us to the ambiguousness of authorship. If an artist asks or hires someone else to paint a picture from one of their sketches, who is the author of the piece. Is there a difference between being the author of a concept and the author of a piece? Is a dead stick on the ground its own stament or does it need to be photographed or carved to be called art?

1 comment:

Scout said...

Murdered by her calling like Stan Brakhage or Rachel Carson