Some More Exhibitions: Barbara Hepworth & Sonia Delaunay

Barbara Hepworth at Tate Britain

The Hepworth exhibition at Tate Britain was eye opening in a way for me as it began by contextualising Hepworth’s work with that of other artists from the period in the early 1900s. Displayed alongside contemporaries such as Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Henry Moore and John Skeaping a small snapshot of the sculptural landscape allows for a view of the melting pot from which her style was born.

A definite impact on Hepworth’s work and life was her second husband Ben Nicholson, whose Picasso inspired monographs influenced a more abstract style and their relationship gave her a focus on the relationship between mother and child that led on to create many works with two sculptural elements. These then gave way to the wood and string pieces such as Pelagos, that replace the disparate “Mother” and “Child” elements from her work with a tension within a single form itself, that is more analogous to a relationship itself – in perfect balance, tense but stable – than a description of two elements.

I definitely enjoyed this exhibition, especially the film ‘Figures in a Landscape’, a portrait of both Cornwall and Hepworth on film set to a lovely poem by Jacquetta Hawkes read by Cecil Day Lewis to an epic soundtrack composed by Priaulx Rainier.

Sonia Delaunay at Tate Modern

Sonia Delaunay’s work involves an eclectic array of colours busying themselves around the idea of ‘Rhythm’. The cubist beginnings of her style give a very pronounced feeling of time and movement within her pieces that have a great vibrancy.

However, it is her three paintings created for ‘The International Exhibition of Arts and Technology’ – “Aeroplane Engine”, “Propeller” and “Instrument Panel” – that really take the eye. The near technical drawing style of the paintings as an ode to the revolution of the aeroplane, matched with the vibrancy of the colour that has come from her early works.

Beyond the painting, Delaunay had a lot of textile work, however, other than the Cleopatra dress, I was not that interested in this sort of work.

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