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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.”

A three-dimensional work of art made by a variety of means, including carving wood, chiseling stone, casting or welding metal, molding clay or wax, or assembling materials.

Permitting the passage of light.

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

A primarily American artistic movement of the 1960s, characterized by simple geometric forms devoid of representational content. Relying on industrial technologies and rational processes, Minimalist artists challenged traditional notions of craftsmanship, using commercial materials such as fiberglass and aluminum, and often employing mathematical systems to determine the composition of their works.

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.


AUDIO: MoMA Curator Ann Temkin discusses Repetition Nineteen III