About this artwork

'Wave' was inspired by the landscape of Cornwall, where Hepworth lived at the time. The piece epitomises the kind of sculpture the artist was producing towards the end of the Second World War. The artist has combined organic form with natural materials and the use of string. The Russian Constructivist sculptor, Naum Gabo used nylon thread in his sculpture from around 1938 and Hepworth, who knew him well, may have been influenced by this, as well as by mathematical models. The string emphasizes the tension between the interior and exterior of the work. This tension is further highlighted by the contrast between the polished wood and matt, painted interior.

Dame Barbara Hepworth

Dame Barbara Hepworth

Hepworth was born in Yorkshire. She studied at the Royal College of Art, London, where Henry Moore was a fellow student. Her work of the early 1930s in both stone and wood was completely abstract. Unlike Moore, her abstractions were not based on nature. In 1939 Hepworth moved to St Ives, Cornwall with husband Ben Nicholson and lived there for the rest of her life. Figurative references were reintroduced in to her work from the late 1940s, and from the 1950s onwards she worked predominantly in bronze. She died in a fire at her studio, which is now a museum dedicated to her work.