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Eva Hesse. Repetition Nineteen III. 1968

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Eva Hesse (American, born Germany. 1936–1970)

Repetition Nineteen III

Fiberglass and polyester resin, nineteen units
Each 19 to 20 1/4" (48 to 51 cm) x 11 to 12 3/4" (27.8 to 32.2 cm) in diameter
Credit Line:
Gift of Charles and Anita Blatt
MoMA Number:
© 2015 Estate of Eva Hesse. Galerie Hauser & Wirth, Zurich
Audio Program excerpt

MoMA Audio: Collection

, 2005

Curator, Ann Temkin: Hesse was definitely taking chances, willing to try something which never before would have been considered sculpture. Repetition Nineteen III doesn't hold together. In fact, it's nineteen separate objects. They can be configured in any way on the floor, an entirely new way of thinking about sculpture in the 1960s.

A lot of it has to do with Hesse's unconcern with the idea of a sculpture as a monument. There is just this liberating idea of these forms, which were not sure exactly what they may refer to. Are they human forms, are they animal forms? Are they plant forms? They, for me, have some kind of soul. There is vulnerability, and for Hesse that's what life is about.

Fiberglass was one of her favorite materials. She just discovered it in the year that she made this, and at that time of course it hadn't been used before for sculpture, just for industrial purpose. And I think for her as a woman artist in the 1960s, amidst a generation of men, it's no accident that risk-taking meant not living up to that idea of a heroic art. Now we can look at this art and not at all think of it as a woman's art, we think of this as great art, period.

The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 271

Repetition Nineteen III comprises nineteen bucketlike forms, all the same shape but none exactly alike. Nor do they have a set order, since Hesse allowed latitude in placing them: "I don't ask that the piece be moved or changed, only that it could be moved and changed. There is not one preferred format." The Minimalist artists, who emerged a little before Hesse did, had explored serial repetitions of identical units. Hesse loosened that principle: Repetition 19 is simultaneously repetitive and irregular. She also tended to work on a humbler scale than the Minimalists often had, and her forms and materials are less technocratic; she herself called the forms in Repetition 19 "anthropomorphic," and recognized sexual connotations in these "empty containers."

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