New Documentary on Revolutionary Female Artist Eva Hesse to Launch in April

The film follows Hesse's short-lived, iconic career.

A comprehensive new documentary on Eva Hesse, one of the most innovative 1960s artists, will premiere in New York in April.

Hesse’s Jewish family fled Nazi Germany in the 1940s and settled in New York, where she faced a difficult childhood, growing up as an immigrant in a foreign country.

The documentary examines the life and times of one of the most innovative artists of her generation. Photo: Eva Hesse, Life + Work Documentary via Facebook

The documentary examines the life and times of one of the most innovative artists of her generation.
Photo: Eva Hesse, Life + Work Documentary via Facebook

Finding her artistic voice through adversity, Hesse embarked on an iconic, albeit short-lived career. Recognized as one of the few female artists in New York’s 1960s art scene, according to an essay by the film’s director Marcie Begleiter, the artist befriended and was influenced by fellow New York artists Sol LeWitt, Robert Ryman, and the sculptor Tom Doyle—whom she later married.

Director Marcie Begleiter interviews artist Robert Mangold for the film. Photo: Eva Hesse, Life + Work Documentary via Facebook

Director Marcie Begleiter interviews artist Robert Mangold for the film.
Photo: Eva Hesse, Life + Work Documentary via Facebook

By the end of the decade, the German-born American’s career was swiftly rising. With over 20 scheduled group shows in 1970, Hesse was just starting to get mainstream recognition for her innovative work, which explored the use of composite materials including plastic, latex, and fiberglass. Sadly, Hesse’s burgeoning career was abruptly cut short that year when she died from a brain tumor at only 34.

“The end of her life proved to be only the beginning go her career,” the critic Jonathan Keats wrote in Art and Antiques Magazine, according to a press release. “The couple of solo gallery shows she hustled in 11 years following her graduation from the Yale School of Art have since been eclipsed by multiple posthumous retrospectives at major museums from the Guggenheim to the Hirshhorn to the Tate.”

Shooting Hesse's Untitled (Rope Piece) (1970) at the Whitney Museum. Photo: Eva Hesse, Life + Work Documentary via Facebook

Shooting Hesse’s Untitled (Rope Piece) (1970) at the Whitney Museum.
Photo: Eva Hesse, Life + Work Documentary via Facebook

In a statement published on Art Daily, director Marcie Begleiter explained that “The work moves me deeply in the mysterious way that powerful art can function.” Inspired by her writing, she said “I connected strongly with the voice and heart that came through in these short quotes… The female perspective is also very strong in her writing as is her ambition and bravery.”

All in all, 2016 is set to be a big year for the celebration of Hesse’s legacy. Aside from the domestic and international release of Begleiter’s documentary, a book of her journal entries will also be published in May.

Eva Hesse” opens on April 27 at Film Forum, New York; and on May 13 at Laemmle Monica Film Center, Los Angeles.


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