Celebrating Barbara Hepworth

Celebrating Barbara Hepworth

Celebrating Barbara Hepworth – Today’s animated Doodle celebrates the life and work of English abstract sculptor Dame Barbara Hepworth, widely considered one of the mid-20th century’s most impactful sculptors. On this day in 1964, Hepworth’s largest-ever work, the 21-foot bronze sculpture “Single Form,” was unveiled in front of the United Nations Building in New York City. The piece was created as a tribute to her friend Dag Hammarskjöld, the former U.N. secretary-general, following his tragic death several years earlier. 

Jocelyn Barbara Hepworth was born on January 10th, 1903 in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England, and by the age of 15, she knew she wanted to become a sculptor. She enrolled at the Leeds School of Art, where she began a mutually influential lifelong friendship with fellow sculptor Henry Moore, and then attended the Royal College of Art in London. While her early work incorporated classic elements, by the 1930s she had shifted to wholly abstract pieces, among the earliest such sculptures crafted in Britain.

As depicted in today’s Doodle artwork, Hepworth was one of the leading practitioners of “direct carving,” a technique by which the sculpting process is influenced by the qualities of the raw materials, rather than a preconceived model. Her work is frequently marked by a sensitive, organic quality and a signature focus on the interplay between mass and empty space. 

Among her many accolades, Hepworth was awarded the Grand Prix at the 1959 São Paulo Bienal, and for her invaluable contribution to British art was named Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1965. Hepworth’s more than 600 sculptures remain a testament to the unique power of art to reflect the timeless values of humanism and natural beauty. 

Thank you, Dame Barbara Hepworth, for using your art to help carve a path toward greater harmony within our society and environment.



Doodler Q&A with Matt Cruickshank

Today’s Doodle art was created by Doodler Matt Cruickshank from the UK. Below, he shares some thoughts on the making of the Doodle:

Q: When did you first learn about Barbara Hepworth?

A: At Salisbury Art College in Wiltshire, England, our tutors encouraged us to look at all facets of art from drawings to 3D. I remember a book on Hepworth in the library with her striking forms on the front cover. It was impossible NOT to pick up and look through!


 Q: What was your creative approach for this Doodle? Why did you choose this approach?

A: The approach centred around the Hepworth studio in St. Ives, imagining such a magnificent space to create in with windows open and cats quietly judging. I had made small sculptures firsthand to try and understand Barbara’s thought process before looking at “Pendour” – one of Barbara’s pieces that seemed to fit our logo and composition the best. 


 Q: Did you draw inspiration from anything in particular for this Doodle?

A: One of Hepworth’s quotes was “I draw what I feel in my body.” This is so prolific. She approached subjects with great classical knowledge and training. These tools gave her the base with which to nurture her ultimate skill: instinct.


 Q: What do you hope people will take away from this Doodle?

A That we can aspire to achieve what Barbara did – to shape forms in balance with nature and harmony, whether that form is sculpture, writing, music or even just ourselves.



Early concepts and sketches of the Doodle




Explore the artistic development of one of the most important British artists of the 20th century, Barbara Hepworth, on Google Arts & Culture.

You can find more about Celebrating Barbara Hepworth on the official Google Doodle Page


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