Barbara Hepworth, “Pierced Hemisphere” (1937) Wakefield Permanent Art Collection (© Bowness, photograph: Norman Taylor)
WAKEFIELD, England — The sculptor Barbara Hepworth was born in the former mill town of Wakefield, West Yorkshire, in 1921, and it is at the Hepworth Wakefield, a gallery named in her honor, which was created 10 years ago by the architect David Chipperfield in the pleasing shape of a jostle of wonky, gray cubes partly surrounded by a river (it’s a little like a jangly Modernist take on a moated castle keep), that her work is being celebrated in a thoroughgoing retrospective.
The exhibition, Barbara Hepworth: Art & Life, is both an examination of some of the best of her artworks and a spasmodic account of her life. This is a place where the outdoors are always trying to get a look in. A weeping willow thrashes in the wind just beyond the window. Houseboats are nestled into the river bank, snooped on by a giant yellow crane.