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Media Contact: Peter Cavagnaro, pcavagnaro@berkeley.edu, (510) 642-0365

Eva Hesse: Studiowork (January 26–April 10, 2011)

Eva Hesse: Studiowork, 1967; cheesecloth over metal screen; 3 x 19 x 7 in. (variable); gift of Mrs.
Helen Charash.

BAM/PFA is the First United States Destination and the Only West Coast Venue for this Acclaimed Exhibition of Eva Hesse’s Test Pieces or “Studioworks”; Berkeley Presentation Features Several Exclusive Works too Fragile to Travel Elsewhere

This show seriously engages the attention of anyone who has a special interest in bold departures from standard sculptural practice.”—Wall Street Journal

Berkeley, CA, November 12, 2010—(Download a PDF version of this press release.) The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) is the first of only two United States venues presenting Eva Hesse: Studiowork, on view from January 26, 2011 through April 10, 2011. The exhibition, which will have travelled to London, Barcelona, and Toronto before arriving in Berkeley, is the result of new research by renowned Hesse scholar Briony Fer and is curated by Fer and Barry Rosen, director of The Estate of Eva Hesse. The curator in charge for the BAM/PFA presentation is Phyllis Wattis MATRIX Curator Elizabeth Thomas.

The German-born, American artist Hesse (1936–1970) played a central role in the radical transformation of sculptural practice in the 1960s. Throughout her career, Hesse produced a large amount of small sculptural works alongside her large-scale sculpture. These objects, amongst them many of the so-called test pieces, were made using a wide range of materials, including latex, wire-mesh, sculp metal, wax, fiberglass, and cheesecloth. The Berkeley presentation of Studiowork features nearly sixty of these rarely seen works, many of which are from BAM/PFA’s own collection, part of a major gift made in 1979 by Hesse’s sister, Helen Charash.

Left in her studio at the time of her death, sold or given to friends during her lifetime, these objects defy easy categorization, seen variously as experiments, little pieces, molds, tests, or finished pieces. Indeed much of Hesse’s oeuvre has an ephemeral quality, but nowhere is this characteristic more prominent than with the pieces that comprise this exhibition, which exist just below the threshold of sculpture. Renaming them “studioworks,” this exhibition and the accompanying catalog propose that these objects are neither merely preparatory nor necessarily finished works, but works that capture the most elusive moments of experimentation. In total, they offer the most profound glimpse into Hesse’s studio practice to date, while also radically putting into question traditional notions of what sculpture is.

Although the extreme fragility of these studioworks may seem to echo some of the details of Eva Hesse’s own life, which ended shortly after being diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of thirty four, there was little that was fragile about her approach to making art. Her pioneering use of perishable materials resulted in a collection that is particularly challenging to preserve, but remains a testament to her commitment to risk-taking and experimentation. The Berkeley presentation will include a very special selection of works from the collection that are simply too delicate to travel elsewhere.

Concurrent with a portion of BAM/PFA’s presentation of Studiowork, the museum will be displaying one of the crown jewels of the Hesse collection in a separate exhibition. Abstract Now and Then considers abstract painting, drawing, photography, and sculpture in two recent periods—1940 through 1985, and 1990 through 2010. A highlight of the exhibition is Hesse’s monumental wall piece Aught, one of the museum’s most important late twentieth-century works. Aught will be on display February 16, 2011 through May 8, 2011.

Eva Hesse: Stud
iowork was organized by The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, in collaboration with Camden Arts Centre, London; Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; and the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. The Berkeley presentation has been made possible in part by the Koret Foundation, the Elizabeth A. Sackler Museum Educational Trust, Dr. James B. Pick and Dr. Rosalyn M. Laudati, and the continued support of the BAM/PFA Trustees.

Special programs
Lecture: Briony Fer
Wednesday, January 26, 6:30 p.m.
Museum Theater
Exhibition co-curator and Hesse scholar Briony Fer will address Hesse’s studioworks in relation to the artist’s overall body of work and contemporary sculpture. The exhibition gallery will be open prior to the lecture. Lecture and admission are free.

Gallery Talk: Michelle Barger
Sunday, March 13, 2 p.m.
Gallery 3
How do museums handle, preserve and display artworks whose very materials were not built to last, such as the rubber, cheesecloth, and polyester resin Hesse frequently incorporated into her sculptures? Michelle Barger, deputy head of conservation at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, offers a uniquely close observation of the strikingly tactile objects in Studiowork to expand our understanding of Hesse's materials and working techniques. Talk is included with the museum admission.

Guided Tours
Selected Thursdays at 12: 15 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m.
Museum Lobby
UC Berkeley graduate students from the History of Art and Rhetoric departments will offer guided tours of the exhibition. Please consult the BAM/PFA website bampfa.berkeley.edu close to the exhibition for confirmation. Tours are included with the price of admission.

The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) is the visual arts center of the University of California, Berkeley, one of the nation’s leading research universities. BAM/PFA aims to inspire the imagination and ignite critical dialogue through contemporary and historical art and film, engaging audiences from the campus, Bay Area community, and beyond. One of the largest university art museums in the United States in both size and attendance, BAM/PFA presents fifteen art exhibitions and 380 film programs each year. The museum’s collection of more than 15,000 works, distinguished by artistic excellence and innovation, intellectual exploration, and social commentary, includes exceptional examples of mid-twentieth-century painting, including important works by Hans Hofmann, Jackson Pollock, Eva Hesse, and Mark Rothko, as well as historical and contemporary Asian art, early American painting, Conceptual and contemporary international art, and California and Bay Area art. The PFA film and video collection now includes the largest group of Japanese films outside of Japan, as well as impressive holdings of Soviet silents, West Coast avant-garde cinema, seminal video art, rare animation, Central Asian productions, Eastern European cinema, and international classics.

Museum Information
Location: 2626 Bancroft Way, just below College Avenue near the UC Berkeley campus.

Gallery and Museum Store Hours: Wednesday through Sunday, 11–5. Open L@TE Fridays until 9 p.m. Closed Monday and Tuesday.

Admission: General admission is $10; admission for seniors, disabled persons, non–UC Berkeley students, and young adults (13–17) is $7; admission for BAM/PFA members, UC Berkeley students, staff, and faculty, and children under 12 is free. Reservations are required for group visits; for information, rates, and schedule, please e-mail sgvisits@berkeley.edu. Admission is free on the first Thursday of each month.

L@TE Admission: On L@TE Fridays, general admission to the BAM/PFA galleries is $7 after 5 p.m. Show your ticket for a same-day PFA screening or gallery visit and get in free. Admission is always free for BAM/PFA members and UC Berkeley students, faculty, and staff. For updates on L@TE programs and to purchase tickets, visit bampfa.berkeley.edu/late.

Information: 24-hour recorded message (510) 642-0808; fax (510) 642-4889; TDD (510) 642-8734.

Website: bampfa.berkeley.edu

Please note: For a selection of media images, please contact Peter Cavagnaro at (510) 642-0365 or pcavagnaro@berkeley.edu.

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