EVA HESSE | HANNAH WILKE
EVA HESSE | HANNAH WILKE
Acquavella Galleries is pleased to present the exhibition Eva Hesse / Hannah Wilke: Erotic Abstraction, the first show to present these two pioneering artists side by side. Curated by Eleanor Nairne of London’s Barbican Art Gallery, this show features over twenty works made between 1965 and 1977, including foundational works in the history of post- Minimalist and feminist art.
Living in New York in the 1960s, Hesse and Wilke seemed at times to be working on parallel, if not entirely synchronized, tracks. Both turned to sculpture in the mid-1960s, and both became renowned for their experiments with form and materials, embracing then-new media such as fiberglass and liquid latex in their works. Bringing a bodily sensibility to the rigid and sterile structures of Minimalism, each artist in her own way created work that was evocative, organic, and sensual. As Nairne writes, “Hesse and Wilke shared in the desire to adopt and subvert the strict geometries of Minimalism; softening the language of cool detachment with a sense of physical touch.” Our exhibition highlights this shared sense of eroticism and interest in seriality and repetition central to both Hesse and Wilke’s work.
Central to this pursuit for both artists was the embrace of materials not widely used in sculpture in the 1960s, such as fiberglass and liquid latex. Erotic Abstraction features groundbreaking works from each artist in these experimental and suggestive materials. Ringaround Arosie (1965), made the first year that Hesse became fully engaged in sculpture, features a pair of breast-like mounds coming to a point at the center, each made of a spiral of electrical wire. Wilke’s Ponder-r-rosa 1 (1974) is the earliest work still extant by the artist made of liquid latex, a then newly available industrial material whose use Hesse had pioneered a few years earlier. Presenting labial blooms made of folded circles of the soft black material bound together by metal fasteners, Wilke’s latex wall pieces not only share innovative construction techniques with works like Ringaround Arosie, but also playful titles hinting at the works’ corporeal forms.
I have confidence in my understanding of the formal... Those problems are solvable, I solve them, can solve them beautifully. In fact, my idea now is to discount everything I’ve ever learned or been taught about those things and to find something else. —EVA HESSE
I have been concerned with the creation of a formal imagery that is specifically female, a new language that fuses mind and body into erotic objects that are nameable and at the same time quite abstract. Its content has always related to my own body and feelings, reflecting pleasure as well as pain, the ambiguity and complexity of emotions. —HANNAH WILKE