"I remember always working with contradictions and contradictionary forms, which is my idea also in life, the whole absurdity of life, everything for me has always been opposites, nothing has ever been in the middle."
Eva Hesse was an artist considered to be the first to explore postminimalism. She adopted a wry, female approach to the generally rigid, male style that is minimalism, using suggestion to undermine the conceptual. There is a clin d'oeil to the human form in much of her sculpture, often of a phallic nature, preferring materials such as rubber tubing, rope, resins, wire, and cloth.
Born in Hamburg, Germany, January 11, 1936, Eva Hesse fled the Nazi government, with her family, to New York in 1939. Her mother committed suicide when Eva was ten years old.
She studied at Brooklyn's School of Industrial Art, and then the Pratt Institute in 1952, followed by Cooper Union from 1954 to 1957. She then went on to Yale University's School of Art and Architecture, in New Haven, studying painting with Josef Albers, and getting her BFA in 1959. She then returned to New York, and worked as a textile designer.
In 1961, she participated in a group exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum and the John Heller Gallery, both in New York. She also married abstract sculptor Tom Doyle. She made her first sculpture for a happening in 1962. In 1963, she presented drawings for her first solo exhibition at the Allan Stone Gallery, in New York. In 1964, she moved back to Germany, to Kettig-am-Ruhr, with her husband, under the patronage of a local art collector, and textile manufacturer. In 1965, still in Europe, Hesse had her first sculpture exhibition, in Düsseldorf, at the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen.
In 1965, they moved back to New York, and separated after some months. In 1967, she started making sculptures of latex, then of fiberglass. She began gaining public recognition, and did solo and group exhibitions in New York. From 1968 until 1970, Hesse taught at New York's School of Visual Arts.
In 1969, she was diagnosed as having a brain tumour, and underwent three operations, before dying of brain cancer at thirty-four, in New York City, May 29, 1970.
For further reading, there are two eponymous biographies:
by Lucy R. Lippard
by Elisabeth Sussman, Renate Petzinger, Ann Temkin