Barbara Hepworth

The Family of Man, 1970 Image 1 of 5
Open images in Lightbox
Squares with Two Circles, 1963 Image 2 of 5
Open images in Lightbox
The Family of Man, 1970 Image 3 of 5
Open images in Lightbox
The Family of Man, 1970 Image 4 of 5
Open images in Lightbox
Squares with Two Circles, 1963 Image 5 of 5
Open images in Lightbox
Dame Barbara Hepworth (1903–75) was born and raised in Wakefield, and became one of the 20th century's most eminent international sculptors, shaped by her early years in Yorkshire. Hepworth is best known for creating beautiful, flowing and rhythmic sculptures in wood, marble or bronze, often influenced by the organic shapes and contours of nature. Hepworth was passionate that her work should be ‘allowed to breathe’ outdoors and wrote that she ‘kept on thinking of large works in a landscape: this has always been a dream in my mind’.

Click for more information about: Barbara Hepworth

More Information

Two works by Hepworth can be seen in the open air at YSP: The Family of Man, 1970 and Squares With Two Circles, 1963. 

The Family of Man, 1970 is a beautiful representation of figures in the landscape and is one of the last major works Hepworth completed before her death. Family is not only a universal survey of humanity but also a personal history. The sculptures become more sophisticated in composition as they mature, from Young Girl at the bottom of the hill, through Bride and Bridegroom and finally Ultimate Form. Hepworth chose not to create literal representations of the world but developed abstract forms inspired by people and landscapes. These nine upright figures resemble one another, like the family to which they allude. 

Hepworth’s first love was carving, and even when creating a piece for casting, she would hack into the plaster leaving surface marks and textures, as is evident in Squares With Two Circles, 1963. The sculpture’s appearance seems to change depending on time of day and year: sometimes it appears to frame its landscape context, at other times it reflects sunlight and seems almost golden. This work beautifully illustrates Hepworth’s repository of forms and ideas, notably the free use of geometry without strict rules, the exploration of interior and exterior and the subtle use of colour in the blue patination.

Although Hepworth stated that she was much more interested in how colour was applied, as opposed to the choice of colour, her studio in Cornwall overlooked St Ives bay and she spoke of the sense of containment and security she felt when she observed the Celtic Sea. She described how she gained great inspiration from Cornish land and seascapes and ‘the quality of light and colour which reminds me of the Mediterranean light and colour which so excites one's sense of form’. This outdoor space celebrates the career of one of the most extraordinary artists of the 20th century.


Sign up


Show comments
We are doing sculptures in art (for my GCSE's) and i chose to do Barbara Hepworths work is amazing! an amazing sculpture and an inspiration to me!
Kate Mugele on Barbara Hepworth | See all (7) comments
I'm doing an art project and this website really helped me Lola on Barbara Hepworth
Barbara Hepworth has inspired me in sculpting and I really want to know more about her Saskia Masters on Barbara Hepworth
I like her work, it is inspiring Maria on Barbara Hepworth
I am 59 years old - when studying Craft (Design & Practice) for GCE A level 1970/72 at Castleford Grammar School, West Yorkshire my teacher described me as 'Barbara Hepworth' & my friend Anne, whom I am in touch with as 'Henry Moore' - have visited her sculpture garden in St Ives many years ago, but would like to visit YSP, but cannot drive & am in poor health, but love your website - thank you, Jane xx Jane Butterfield on Barbara Hepworth
Barbara Hepworth's Family of Man sit on Hillside almost as a close community of watchers, in intimate proximity to each other, observing the natural setting and the many visitors alike, the bronze verdigris blending subtly through time with the landscape. Stephen Ripley on Barbara Hepworth
Very hard working and more skills to get this kind of perfectness Stuart K Spindlow on Barbara Hepworth

Leave a comment

Submit Comment