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Eva Hesse: Sculpture

May 12, 2006 - September 17, 2006


January 11
Eva Hesse is born at the Israelite Hospital in Hamburg, Germany. She is the second child of Wilhelm Hesse, an attorney from Hamburg, and Ruth Marcus Hesse from Hameln.
December 7
Eva and her older sister, Helen, are dropped off at Altona railway station in Hamburg to board a kindertransport (children's train) to the Netherlands.
December 12
After changing trains several times, the Hesse girls arrive in The Hague and are placed in a Catholic children's home in Ryswyk. They are visited several times by their uncle Nathan and aunt Martha and by family friends.
February 5
Hesse's parents are able to leave Germany for Holland and, after much struggle with bureaucracy, obtain visas for the children from the British consulate. The family visits with friends in Amsterdam before traveling to London in late February.
June 16
After many delays in securing visas to the United States, the family boards the S.S. Manhattan in Southampton, England.

June 22
The Hesse family arrives in New York City and, after a short stay with family on the Upper East Side, settles in the German Jewish community of Washington Heights.

Tagebücher (Diaries)
Wilhelm Hesse kept tagebücher (diaries) for his daughter Eva for her first ten years, as well as similar diaries for her older sister, Helen. Turn the diary pages below.


Hesse begins kindergarten at Public School 173 in Washington Heights.
Summer Hesse spends the first of her summers at Schweizer's Kinder Camp in Somerville, New Jersey (renamed Camp Lebanon in 1946).
Ruth Marcus Hesse moves out of the family apartment.
Hesse's parents divorce; Wilhelm Hesse retains custody of the children.
Around Thanksgiving, Wilhelm Hesse marries Eva Nathanson.
January 8
Ruth Marcus Hesse commits suicide.
Hesse begins middle school at Humboldt Junior High School (Public School 115).


Hesse attends high school at the School of Industrial Art, where she graduates from the window display program; in the yearbook she is a "class celebrity" voted "most popular" and “did most for school."
She pursues an advertising design course at Pratt Institute of Design but leaves after only three semesters. Then, in December 1953, Hesse gets a job at Seventeen magazine and begins taking classes at the Art Students League.
Hesse's artwork appears in an article about her in the “It's All Yours” section of Seventeen, for which she is paid a hundred dollars. The
, a Yiddish-language newspaper in New York, picks up the story and publishes a profile of the young artist.
Hesse attends Cooper Union School, where she earns a certificate in design.

She receives a Yale-Norfolk fellowship and attends the Yale Summer School of Music and Art in Norfolk, Connecticut.
Hesse enrolls at the Yale School of Art and Architecture, where she studies under Josef Albers, Rico Lebrun, and Bernard Chaet. Her studies
are paid for in part by a scholarship from the Educational Foundation for Jewish Girls.
She receives a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Yale and moves back to New York City; meets Claes Oldenburg.
Hesse works part-time as a textile designer; she meets Sol LeWitt and David Weinrib.
Hesse meets the sculptor Tom Doyle. On April 11, Drawings: 3 Young Americans, featuring Hesse, Donald Berry, and Harold Jacobs, opens at John Heller Gallery, New York.

November 21
Hesse and Doyle are married in a civil ceremony.


Josef Albers was one of Hesse's professors at Yale School of Art and Architecture, c. 1958


March 5
Hesse and Doyle are married a second time, in a Jewish wedding ceremony, following Doyle's conversion.
March 12
Eva Hesse: Recent Drawings, her first solo show, opens at Allan Stone Gallery, New York.
Hesse and Doyle move to 134 Bowery. Around this time she meets Lucy Lippard, Robert Ryman, Frank Lincoln Viner, Robert Mangold, and Sylvia Plimack Mangold.
Hesse and Doyle travel to West Germany, where Doyle has been invited by the German industrialist Friedrich Arnhard Scheidt and his wife, Isabel, work in Kettwig-am-Ruhr, near Düsseldorf. Originally scheduled for six months, the couple's stay ultimately extends to fifteen months. The Scheidts provide Doyle and Hesse with living quarters, studio space, materials, and a stipend.
Hesse exhibits three drawings at the Winterausstellung in the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf







Eva Hesse in her Bowery studio, c. 1966
Hesse completes Ringaround Arosie, her first relief.
On May 15, Hesse shows her drawings and reliefs in an exhibition in an old greenhouse at the Scheidt home. On May 19, Hesse and Doyle take the train to Hameln, her mother's hometown, and visit with people who remember her mother and her maternal grandparents, Erna and Moritz Marcus. On May 21 they travel to Hamburg, Hesse's birthplace. Although she and Doyle are let into the building at Isestrasse 98, where her family had lived, the current residents of the Hesses' old apartment would not let them in.
Eva Hesse: Materialbilder und Zeichnungen, a solo exhibition that includes fourteen reliefs created in Germany as well as some fifty drawings, opens at the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf.
Hesse and Doyle return to New York.

Hesse completes Hang Up. Their marriage over, Doyle moves into his studio across the street. Through Sol LeWitt, Hesse meets Robert Smithson, Nancy Holt, and Mel Bochner.
Hesse participates in Abstract Inflationism and Stuffed Expressionism at the Graham Gallery, New York, where she exhibits Hang Up, Ishtar, and Long Life.
August 16
Her father dies while on holiday in Switzerland.
Invited by Lucy Lippard to participate in the group show Eccentric Abstraction at the Fischbach Gallery, New York, Hesse elects to show Several, Ingeminate, and Metronomic Irregularity II.
Hesse shows in Mel Bochner's exhibition, Working Drawings and Other Visible Things on Paper Not Necessarily Meant to Be Viewed as Art at the School of Visual Arts' Visual Arts Gallery, New York.
Donald Droll, manager of the Fischbach Gallery, offers her representation. During the course of the year, Hesse creates her Accession series of boxes. She participates in a variety of exhibitions, including those at the Ithaca College Museum of Art; the New York State Fair in Syracuse; the Weatherspoon Gallery at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro; and the Lannis Museum of Normal Art, New York.
Hesse commissions a steel cube (Accession II) from Arco Metals; she also starts experimenting with latex.
She completes Repetition Nineteen I in papier-mâché.
Hesse shows Addendum in Art in Series, co-curated by Mel Bochner, at Finch College Museum of Art, New York.
Dorothy Beskind makes a film of Hesse at work in her studio.


Hesse goes to Oberlin College in Ohio for two days as a visiting artist in conjunction with the Allen Memorial Art Museum's exhibition Recent Drawings by Eva Hesse. She is included in American Drawings, 1968, at the Moore College of Art, Philadelphia.
She meets Doug Johns at Aegis Reinforced Plastics, Staten Island, and makes plans to work with him on fiberglass sculptures during the summer and fall.
Hesse takes part in the exhibition Options, Directions 1, at the Milwaukee Art Center (traveled to Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago).
She completes Repetition Nineteen III, her first fiberglass piece, working with Doug Johns at Aegis. Accretion and Accession III are finished later in summer. On July 7, the notation "chain polymers" appears in her appointment book; it becomes the title for her November solo exhibition at the Fischbach Gallery, New York.

Hesse begins teaching at the School of Visual Arts, New York.
She makes Area for Lucy Lippard's traveling exhibition Soft and Apparently Soft Sculpture. Repetition Nineteen III is included in Made
of Plastic
at the Flint Institute of Arts, Flint, Michigan; Seam is shown in Anti-Form at John Gibson Gallery, New York; on October 27, Sans II is completed.
November 16
Her one-person sculpture exhibition opens at the Fischbach Gallery. Eva Hesse: Chain Polymers includes the latex works Schema, Sequel, Stratum, and Sans I and the fiberglass pieces Sans II, Accretion, Accession III, and Repetition Nineteen III, as well as some test pieces and drawings.
Hesse's Aught and Area are included in the Anti-Form­themed warehouse show Nine at Leo Castelli, curated by Robert Morris. She is invited to exhibit in the Annual
at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Hesse working on
Accession I, 1967




Eva Hesse, c. 1968-69

Augment and Vinculum II are included in Harald Szeemann's highly influential exhibition When Attitudes Become Form at the Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland; the exhibition travels to Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld, West Germany, and to the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (where Sans III is added).
Hesse undergoes her first operation for a brain tumor.
While convalescing, Hesse goes in a wheelchair to the opening of Anti-Illusion, curated by Marcia Tucker and James Monte, at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Exhibited there are Vinculum I, Expanded Expansion, and Untitled ("Ice Piece").
She spends the summer in Woodstock with her friends Grace Wapner and Gioia Timpanelli, drawing extensively
Hesse undergoes a second operation on the brain tumor.
Hesse's Right After is shown at The Jewish Museum in the exhibition A
Plastic Presence
, organized by the Milwaukee Art Center (the exhibition travels to Milwaukee and San Francisco). In the companion show Plastic
in Editions
several of the elements of the work Connection are exhibited and are placed for sale individually, but none are purchased. The Museum of Modern Art acquires both Repetition
Nineteen I
and III.
Contingent is exhibited at the Finch College Museum's Art
in Process IV
Hesse participates in the exhibition String and Rope at the Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, with Ennead. Accretion is included in 955,000, an exhibition curated by Lucy Lippard at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, B.C. Over three sessions, Cindy Nemser conducts an interview of Hesse for Artforum. Hesse begins work on her last pieces, Untitled (“Rope Piece”) and Untitled (“Seven Poles”).
Contingent is photographed in Hesse's studio by Artforum for the cover of the May issue featuring Nemser's interview. A photo essay on new art appears in Life, where Hesse's works appear alongside pieces by Lynda Benglis, Richard Van Buren, and Richard Serra.
Hesse reenters the hospital and soon after has a third operation on the tumor. At the same time, she asks her assistant, Bill Barrette, to destroy three works: Untitled (1965), Long Life, and Total Zero.
April 3
Eva Hesse: New Drawings opens at Fischbach Gallery and includes the sculpture Tori.
Hesse's Untitled (“Seven Poles”) is shown with works by Tony DeLap and Frank Gallo in an exhibition at the Owens-Corning Fiberglas Center, New York. The first version of Nemser's interview with Hesse is published in Artforum. On May 29, having been in a coma for several days, Hesse dies at New York Hospital.
Hesse with Expanded Expansion (1969) at the Whitney Museum of American Art exhibition Anti-Illusion: Process/Materials, New York, May 1969