At the Brooklyn Museum, Early Works by Eva Hesse Beautify Odd Creatures

Brooklyn, NEW YORK—The canvases featuring strange abstract figures in the feminist art center at the Brooklyn Museum are made beautiful by the color palettes the artist chose.

Eva Hesse (1936-1970) was a sculptor who achieved international success before dying at the young age of 34. She completed the 19 oil paintings included in “Eva Hesse Spectres 1960” a decade earlier, when she was just 24.

According to the museum, “The term [spectres] refers to an ‘image or apparition,’ which describes both the temperament of these works as well as Hesse’s examination of herself at this critical point in her maturation as an artist. The exhibition considers these evocative works not merely as self-portraits but as explorations of states of consciousness.”

The exhibit is on view from Sept. 16, 2011 to Jan. 8, 2011. Tomorrow is the last day of the show.

All photos by Arts Observer

Above, the exhibit includes 19 untitled oil paintings. Top of page, This skull image is the last in the series. The exhibit notes that it was completed in August 1960, the same time period when Hesse wrote in her diary that she felt her work “spoke back” to her.

“No title,” 1960 (oil on canvas).

“No title,” 1960 (oil on canvas).

“No title,” 1960 (oil on masonite).

From left, “No title,” 1960 (oil on canvas) and “No title,” 1960 (oil on masonite).

“No title,” August 1960 (oil on canvas). The exhibit copy posits that this abstract skull head image references Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung’s psychoanalytic theory that women are divided creatures who have a masculine personality component (the animus).

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