Author(s): Barry Rosen
In 1964, Eva Hesse and her husband Tom Doyle were invited by the industrialist Friedrich Arnhard Scheidt to a residency in Kettwig an der Ruhr, Germany. The following fifteen months marked a significant transformation in Hesse's practice. Eva Hesse 1965 brings together key drawings, paintings and reliefs from this short, yet pivotal period where the artist was able to rethink her approach to colour, materials, and her two-dimensional practice and begin moving towards sculpture, preparing herself for the momentous strides she would take upon her return to New York. Hesse's studio space was located in an abandoned textile factory in Germany. The building still contained machine parts, tools, and materials from its previous use and the angular forms of these disused machines and tools served as inspiration for Hesse's mechanical drawings and paintings. Sharp lines come together in these works to create complex and futuristic, yet nonsensical forms, which Hesse described in her writings as '...clean and clear - but crazy like machines'. Seeking a continuation of her mechanical drawings, in March of 1965, Hesse began a period of feverish work in which she made fourteen reliefs, which venture into three-dimensional space. Works such as H + H (1965) and Oomamaboomba (1965) are the material embodiment of her precisely linear mechanical drawings. Vibrant colours of gouache, varnish and tempera are built up using papier mache and objects Hesse found in the abandoned factory: wood, metal, and cord, which was often left to hang, protruding from the picture plane.
Todd Alden is the director of Alden Projects. He has published widely on such subjects as Marcel Broodthaers, Lee Lozano, Andy Warhol, and Sonic Youth. Jo Applin is a lecturer in the History of Art Department at the University of York, and is the author of Eccentric Objects: Rethinking Sculpture in 1960s America (Yale). Susan Fisher Sterling is the director of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C. Kirsten Swenson is an assistant professor of Contemporary Art and Aesthetics at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.