Eva Hesse: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Article excerpt

Eva Hesse, with her lumpy, handmade sculpture, her bumpy, dramatic personal life, and her premature death at the age of thirty-four, has long been something of a heroine in college art departments, not unlike Frida Kahlo or Sylvia Plath. With a mere ten-year career to her name (1960-70), you couldn't say precisely that she was ever overlooked: Early supporters included Sol LeWitt, Lucy Lippard, and Dan Graham, and an adolescent gouache even won her a Seventeen magazine contest. Still, scholars and critics have been laboring for the past fifteen years to shore up her place in the '6os canon.

Although Hesse herself sadly came and went right before the feminist revolution in art, both the initial criticism and much recent writing have focused on contrasting her seemingly personal and expressive work--and her own identity--with Minimalism's "Me Serra, you Jane" mode of address. Co-organizers Elisabeth Sussman, guest curator for SF MOMA (who brought the show with her after leaving the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York), and Renate Petzinger from the Museum Wiesbaden in Germany are instead exploring the relationships and cross-pollination between the artist's paintings, works on paper (including Hesse's copious notebooks), and sculpture, the medium for which she is best known. The curators have gathered an impressive 150 works for the show--from watercolors and collages to latex and fiberglass--including rarely seen pieces from private collections and several David Ross-era SF MOMA acquisitions. …