Eva Hesse was a German-born American sculptor known for her pioneering work in materials such as latex, fiberglass and plastics. She is one of the artists who ushered in the postminimal art movement in the 1960s.
Much of Hesse’s work might be thought of as a form of poetic, three-dimensional montage, a conjoining of disparate parts culled from diverse sources and combined, or arranged in ways that suggest moments of quiet reflection on the world around us.
Over the course of Hesse’s brief career, she channelled deep-seated desires and anxieties into sculptures that upended minimalist grids with flaccid, bodily forms; frenzied tangles of thick rope; and latex surfaces resembling skin and other pliable, sticky substances. These works transformed modern sculpture and seeded the feminist art movement to come.
Hesse struggled with anxiety and self-doubt—issues she shared with her good friend Sol LeWitt. In a 1965 letter, LeWitt encouraged her to cast apprehensions aside. “Learn to say ‘Fuck You’ to the world once in a while. You have every right to,” he wrote. “Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder, wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting…besmirching, grinding, grinding, grinding away at yourself. Stop it and just DO.”