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Serial Forms and Repetition

Explore the importance of seriality and repetition in Minimalist art.


Repetition Nineteen III

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

1968. 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

Repetition Nineteen III is composed of 19 translucent, bucket-like forms, each approximately 20 inches tall. Minimalist artists explored serial repetition of identical units, but Hesse loosened that principle. Her forms are handmade and irregular rather than manufactured and hard-edged. They are similar to one another in size and shape, but none of them are exactly alike. Repetition Nineteen III sits directly on the gallery floor. Hesse was flexible about the arrangement of the nineteen units that make up this work. She did not give specific instructions about how her work was to be arranged, so its overall shape varies with each installation.

 Hesse used a wide range of materials to make her sculptural works. She was drawn to newly developed materials like fiberglass, which hadn’t been used for sculpture before Hesse began working with it. Aware of the instability of materials like fiberglass, which discolors and deteriorates over time, Hesse said, “Life doesn’t last; art doesn’t last. It doesn’t matter.”

Permitting the passage of light.

The form or condition in which an object exists or appears.

An artistic movement of the 1960s in which artists produced pared-down three-dimensional objects devoid of representational content. Their new vocabulary of simplified, geometric forms made from humble industrial materials challenged traditional notions of craftsmanship, the illusion of spatial depth in painting, and the idea that a work of art must be one of a kind.

An element or substance out of which something can be made or composed.

A form of art, developed in the late 1950s, which involves the creation of an enveloping aesthetic or sensory experience in a particular environment, often inviting active engagement or immersion by the spectator.

The shape or structure of an object.

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AUDIO: MoMA Curator Ann Temkin discusses Repetition Nineteen III