Three to see: The Hepworth Wakefield
- The Hepworth Wakefield
- 23 June 2017
If you're short for time but still keen to explore the finalists for this year's Art Fund Museum of the Year, here's our quick guide to three must-see exhibits at each venue. Today, it's the turn of The Hepworth Wakefield.
Take a look at our Q&A with The Hepworth Wakefield to discover more about the venue, and visit Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017 to find out more about the prize, the history, the judges and the rest of this year's finalists.
Barbara Hepworth, Winged Figure, 1961-3
- Stunning work by one of Britain's most important and inspirational artists
The centrepiece of The Hepworth Family Gift to Wakefield is a full-scale, six-metre-high prototype for Winged Figure, a commission from John Lewis for their flagship store on Oxford Street in London. Unveiled in 1963, the sculpture still adorns the building today. Despite Hepworth always creating full-scale prototypes for her major commissions, Winged Figure is the only full-size working model to survive. The prototype is made of aluminium with stainless steel rods and isopon added for surface texture. Hepworth described it as wanting it to evoke the sense of freedom one feels being airborne or in water.
Barbara Hepworth’s workbench and tools
- A unique insight into Hepworth's working methods
One of the most popular exhibits is Barbara Hepworth’s own wooden workbench and tools, including chisels, mallets and a plane that she had in her studio in St. Ives. The workbench is deeply scarred with the marks of her endeavours, showing how well used it was. Hepworth is quoted as having said: 'The tools a sculptor uses become his friends and they become intensely personal to one, the most precious extension of one’s sight and touch.' The workbench and tools were given to the gallery by the Hepworth family through Art Fund and help reveal the process of Hepworth’s art.
Henry Moore, Reclining Figure, 1936
- An early example of Henry Moore's stunning figurative sculptural work
Purchased in 1942 with assistance from V&A, WPAF and EC Gregory, this seminal early work of Moore's is made of elmwood. The reclining figure was Moore’s principal and enduring subject, and about a third of his practice involved interrogating and abstracting the recumbent form. Working repeatedly with the same subject matter enabled Moore to conduct focused experiments with composition. Born in Yorkshire, in nearby Castleford, Moore met Barbara Hepworth after the First World War at Leeds School of Art, where they both studied.