Hepworth, Dame (Jocelyn) Barbara (1903–1975) By Bonett, Helena
Barbara Hepworth was a sculptor, draughtsperson, painter and printmaker, born in Yorkshire but based in London and St Ives in Cornwall, with a career spanning from the late 1920s to her death in 1975. Known for her pioneering abstract sculpture—including pierced forms and multipart arrangements—Hepworth was one of the leaders of the modernist movement in British visual arts. Her work also shares a confluence of ideas with modernists on the continent, many of whom she first met in France in the 1930s. At that time, her work was predominantly carved in wood and stone, but from the 1940s Hepworth began working with new materials, employing stringing and color in her carved pieces, and, in the following decade, using plaster and bronze to create large-scale works. She was a member of many groups, including Abstraction-Création in Paris, the 7 & 5 Society and Unit One in London, and the Penwith Society of Arts in St Ives. Engaged in a male-dominated art form, Hepworth struggled to gain the same recognition as contemporaries such as Henry Moore. Despite these difficulties, however, she gradually gained a reputation on the international stage. Today, Hepworth remains one of Britain’s most famous and best-loved sculptors.