4 Items in this Learning Collection

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Sphere with Colour (Grey and White)

Accession Number

Sphere with Colour (Grey and White)

Dame Barbara Hepworth

Artist Nationality
British (modern)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
paint on swedish marble with wood base

19 in x 16 in x 15 1/2 in (48.26 cm x 40.64 cm x 39.37 cm);19 in x 15 1/2 in x 16 in (48.26 cm x 39.37 cm x 40.64 cm)

Credit Line
Museum Purchase

Label copy
March 28, 2009
Barbara Hepworth was one of Britain’s most important twentieth century artists, best known for her innovations in the sculptural tradition of direct carving, a technique whereby the final form of the work evolves through the process of carving itself, rather than copying a preconceived model. Hepworth was drawn to the primal nature of direct carving—she likened the technique, unfashionable at the time, to the “forces that mould the landscape.” Indeed, many of her works in stone are evocative of ancient rock formations smoothed by the course of running water over millions of years. For Hepworth these prehistoric landscapes are always related to the human figure. She stressed that although she carves chiefly abstract forms, “the inspiration always comes either from the artist in the landscape, feeling it, becoming it, or the spectator observing the figure in the landscape.” The shape of the sphere in particular reminded Hepworth of a huddled figure on a deserted beach. Three holes “pierce” Sphere with Colour (Grey and White), their flat-painted surfaces a startling contrast to the variegated color of the marble. The ready comparison to the human body is not misplaced here: Hepworth made her first pierced form in 1931, the year she gave birth to her first child.

Subject matter
As part of the new generation of important British sculptors to come to prominence after the Second World War, Hepworth's work of this period can be traced back to the inter-war years. In 1925, she studied marble carving in Rome with master-sculptor Giovanni Ardini; in 1932, Hepworth created her first holed sculpture, Pierced Form (this work was destroyed during the bombing of WWII); and her first sculpture using color was created a few years later in 1939.
Sphere with Colour (Grey and White) is an example of Hepworth's investigation of space and volume in sculpture. It shows her interest in the way that the variegated color of the marble interacts with the biomoprhic and landscape-like curves of the piece. She claimed that the shape of the sphere in particular reminded Hepworth of a huddled figure on a deserted beach. Three holes “pierce” into the volume of the sculpture; their flat-painted surfaces a startling contrast to the variegated color of the marble. 

Physical Description
Oval-shaped piece of veined, green Swedish marble standing on one of its narrow ends. Three holes of different sizes penetrate into the object's center. The holes are painted in a semi-gloss black and matte white.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type

Additional Object Classification(s)

Collection Area
Modern and Contemporary

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Abstract (fine arts style)
biomorphic abstraction
carvings (visual works)
geometric abstraction
green marble
modern and contemporary art
round (shape)

& Author Notes

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On display

UMMA Gallery Location ➜ FFW, Mezzanine ➜ M02 (Joan and Robert Tisch Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art)