It's sadly probable that you will find yourself thinking about Sylvia Plath as you walk around the new Eva Hesse show at Tate Modern, or, if not of Plath, of Mozart or Christ. All four were prodigies in their way, and all four died in their thirties. Each is remembered as a genius, but over each hangs the question: is the brilliance of his or her life made brighter by its shortness? If Mozart, like Telemann, had gone on composing into his eighties, would we think of him as repetitive like Telemann? If Hesse were alive (she'd be 66), would her reputation still have the gloss of youthful death? It's a stupid question, and yet - particularly in Hesse's case - it's an inevitable one. Walk around the Tate's show and you'll also find yourself thinking about a number of living artists: of Mona Hatoum, whose wire-and-flex based sculptures owe a lot to the textile-factory aesthetic of pieces like Hesse's wonderful Ingeminate (1965) - a work whose list of materials ("cord and papier mache over two balloons connected with surgical hose") reads like a particularly esoteric dirty phone call.
You'll also see shades of Rachel Whiteread in sculptures like Repetition 19 III (1968) - 19 bin-shaped floor pieces in semi- translucent polyester resin - and of Cornelia Parker in Connection, which hangs fly-paper-shaped fibreglass elements from the Tate's ceiling by lengths of twine.
Of course, you'll see traces of male artists in Hesse's work, too. There are Philip Guston's dotted lines in the drawings she made in the mid-1960s in an abandoned Ruhr textile factory, and Francis Bacon's this-way-up arrows in her earlier gestural New York paintings. Vinculum I - a kind of polyester resin sled, made in Germany in 1969 after Hesse's first operation for the brain tumour that was to kill her a year later - suggests exposure to Joseph Beuys: it looks like the kind of thing an Inuit might use to drag a mythomanic German airman back home across the snow. And there is the broader influence of groups like Fluxus in Hesse's Accession II and Accession III - works that use the hard edges of technology to make something unexpectedly sexy: vagina dentata in plastic and steel.
None the less, there seems to be a gender divide …