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Eva Hesse

German, 1936 – 1970, active United States

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Eva Hesse was born in 1936 in Hamburg, Germany. When she was only two years old, her parents sent her and an older sister to Amsterdam to escape the Nazi persecution of Jews. In 1939 the family moved to New York City, where Hesse was raised and educated. In 1946 her mother committed suicide following a divorce. This tragedy left Hesse with lingering concerns about her own mental stability, and it prompted her to begin psychoanalysis in 1954. Hesse briefly attended the Pratt Institute of Art to study advertising design, then Cooper Union, and finally Yale (where she earned a bachelor’s degree in 1959). In 1961 she met and married sculptor Tom Doyle, an established artist. Her first solo show was in 1963 at the Allan Stone Gallery, where she exhibited brightly colored multimedia drawings that included collage elements. During fourteen months in Germany in 1964–1965, Hesse turned to sculpture, experimenting with diverse media such as fiberglass, polyethylene, netting, acrylic, and latex. Hesse died of a brain tumor in 1970 at the age of 34.

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