At the Guggenheim, I saw the solo exhibition of Eva Hesse, a German sculptor, who work primarily with latex as her sculpting material. She combined it with fiberglass, resin, and cheesecloth which makes a really fascinating effect. At first, I was not sure what the material was because it reminded me of ancient artifacts found in an archeological site or an Egyptian tomb. I knew it wasn’t because it was created by this artist and the Guggenheim isn’t known to display those types of materials, so I was intrigued. They had a film playing about the work and it really helped me understand more about the material and Eve Hesse as an artist.
Eva Hesse was born in Germany in 1936 and made her art while living in New York in the 1960s, a time where she was often the only woman artist like this in the room. She made what the Guggenheim has defined as Anti-form, Post-minimalism or Process art, three terms I have never heard before. It is simply put an artist using the material and making something that the materials allow. It is not made to represent any particular form or story, but it is the materials itself that is the story. Turns out I love process art and I’ve been making it for some time now. Anyway, back to Hesse.
Latex and cheesecloth are both materials that starts off white and yellows over time and eventually turns brown and gets quite brittle and delicate. The fiberglass and resin do the opposite, they are quite durable. With this piece, Hesse embraced the material’s aging process even though they age at different speeds. In some ways it’s like decomposition and the fiberglass and resin are the bones. Unlike most art I’ve seen, where the artist intends for it to live beyond them and freeze a moment in time, Hesse leaned into the materials aging - the aging is a part of its beauty. I thought it was quite unique and profound.