Film Forum presents EVA HESSE starting tomorrow, April 27th in part of “Eva Hesse Around Manhattan.”
From the beginning, Eva Hesse’s life was marked by drama and social challenges. Born in Hamburg in 1936 to a German-Jewish family, the artist’s fierce work ethic may have developed from a complex psychology that was formed, in part, as a Jew born in Nazi Germany. Having escaped the fate of her extended family, Eva and her older sister Helen were sent out on one of the last Kindertransports (trains that carried Jewish children to safety) and was eventually reunited with their parents in Holland. They made their way to New York but her family struggled to make a new home and her mother, after many years of depression and a failed marriage, committed suicide when Eva was 9 years old.
The artist graduated from Cooper Union and Yale School of Art, then returned home to Manhattan in late 1959 and began to receive attention for her highly original, abstract drawings. In 1961 Hesse met Tom Doyle, an already established sculptor, and in a whirlwind romance married him a scant 6 months after first glimpse. Their relationship was both passionate and competitive. Hesse struggled with the desire to be on equal footing with Doyle in terms of their art making but also wanted to be in a marriage with someone who could offer her the security that life often denied her.
In 1964 Friedrich Arnhard Scheidt, a German industrialist, offered an all-expenses paid artist’s residency to Tom Doyle for year of working in an abandoned textile factory near Essen, Germany. It was tough choice – go back to the country that had murdered her family or stay in New York and work menial jobs while trying to make art with any time and energy left over. Ironically, the work on which her reputation was built began to emerge during this extended visit to the homeland she had escaped 25 years earlier.
The documentary film celebrates the life of one of America’s foremost postwar artists and joins organizations around the city in celebrating her work.
For more information on where her work is being displayed and celebrated, visit: http://zeitgeistfilms.com/sitelets/evahesse/evahessenyc.html