Eva Hesse and Hannah Wilke: Erotic Abstraction
Until 18 June at Acquavella Galleries, 18 East 79th Street, Manhattan
This is the first two-person show ever organised to put the work Eva Hesse and Hannah Wilke in dialogue with one another. The two artists, both based in New York and both working in the same era, each shifted their focus to sculpture in the 1960s. The rejecting the popular models of the time such as Minimalism and instead sought new paths with materials that were rarely if ever seen in the world of fine arts at the time. Among the many ways the two artists were in concert with one another, the exhibition shows how a few years after Hesse established that liquid latex—which had only recently been made available—was a material one could elevate to the high arts, Wilke began exploring it as well. There are other great areas of overlap between the two artists, including explorations of rhythmic repetitions and patterns in their sculpture, as well as inquiries into how material can invoke the body. Though both died fairly young—Hesse at 34 from a brain tumor that some speculate was caused by fumes from the materials used in her sculptures, and Wilke at 52 from a bout with cancer that she ardently documented in her work—the show emphasizes not just how the two may have influenced each other, but how the lexicons they developed went on to widely expand the world of contemporary sculpture.