Eva Hesse

Germany 1936–United States of America 1970

Eva Hesse was born in Hamburg on 11 January 1936. Her family fled the Nazis and arrived in New York in 1939. She became an American citizen in 1945. In 1953 she attended classes at the Art Students League and then studied at Cooper Union from 1954 to 1957. After winning a scholarship to Yale-Norfolk Summer Art School in 1957, she was accepted by Yale University's School of Art and Architecture, where she studied painting with Josef Albers. Hesse returned to New York in 1959 where she met Claes Oldenburg and Sol LeWitt among other artists. Already known for her drawings, Hesse made her first sculpture at Woodstock, New York, in the summer of 1962. Her first solo exhibition, comprised of drawings, was held at the Allan Stone Gallery, New York, in 1963.

In 1964 Hesse travelled extensively in Europe and her first solo exhibition of sculpture was held at the Kunstverein für die Rheinländer und Westfalen, Düsseldorf, in 1965. Returning to New York, she became friends with Keith Sonnier, Mel Bochner, Richard Serra, Carl Andre, Robert Morris and with art critic Lucy Lippard. Her work was included in Abstract Inflationism and Stuffed Expressionism at the Graham Gallery, New York, in 1966. She began making sculpture with latex in 1967 and first used fibreglass in 1968. In the same year she was given a solo exhibition at Fischbach Gallery, New York. In 1969 she underwent two operations for a brain tumour at New York Hospital. From 1968 to 1970 Hesse taught at the School of Visual Arts, New York, participating in several exhibitions of Minimal and 'process' art, notably Anti-Illusion: Procedures/Materials at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, in 1969. She died in New York on 29 May 1970. The Guggenheim’s memorial exhibition toured in 1972–73 and her work was included in MoMA’s survey of American art which travelled to Australia and New Zealand in 1973–74. Retrospectives were held 1992 and 2002.

See more works by this artist in the NGA collection

Eva Hesse Contingent 1969 © The Estate of Eva Hesse, Courtesy Hauser & Wirth Purchased 1973 Learn more