Eva Hesse (January 11th, 1936 to May 29th, 1970) was a German-born American sculptor who is recognized for her pioneering work with non-traditional materials including latex, fiberglass, and plastics.
Born a Jew in Nazi Germany, Hesse's family fled to the United States where Eva studied art at the School of Industrial Art, the Pratt Institute, Cooper Union, and lastly, the Yale School of Art and Architecture where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. In 1961, Hesse married sculptor Tom Doyle, and they briefly lived in an abandoned textile factory in western Germany. There, Hesse began incorporating textile materials into her work which would continue to be characteristic of her style. While her artistic abilities flourished, her marriage did not and Hesse and Doyle's separated shortly after their return to the United States.
Difficult to classify, Hesse's work embodies numerous contradictions from mechanical to organic; order to chaos; and idleness to movement. As a woman in a male-dominated art world, Hesse's commitment to her work demanded international recognition from critics. Much like life itself, Hesse's work evokes the ephemeral state of being, and today, conservationists are challenged with preserving Hesse's works due to the natural decomposition of materials. With only a short span to contribute to the world, Hesse died at age 34 of a brain tumor in 1970.
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