Eva Hesse, A Documentary

“Eva Hesse”, a Documentary

 

Eva Hesse, the documentary by filmmaker Marcie Begleiter, tells the story of the short life of this unique artist who died of brain cancer at age thirty-four.

The film provides an intimate vision of her category- confounding work, and the thought process and techniques that she used to create it. Hesse created her own idiosyncratic style that often combined opposing elements. The film shows an artist searching for self -discovery and then mastering and excelling in all that she produced.

Many of Hesse’s artist friends, including Sol LeWitt, are interviewed for the film as well as writers, gallery owners, curators and her sister, Helen Hesse Charash. Her diaries are read throughout the film by the actress Selma Blair as the film backtracks in time to tell of a Jewish family escaping the Nazis, her bi-polar mother committing suicide by jumping off a building and the family moving and settling in America.

Hesse decided early on that she would become an artist and studied at Cooper Union and with Joseph Albers at Yale.  Her artistic emergence began in 1964 when she and her husband, Tom Doyle, went to Germany for one year on a fellowship. Upon returning to America she began a period of rapid growth and prolific production. We see Hesse sometimes crippled with doubt and indecision but all the while seeming to demonstrate a strong confidence and resourcefulness. This is a woman who in the short span of six years has broken through the male dominated art world of the 1960’s.

Any artist watching this film who is at times beset by self-doubt will be able to identify with Hesse’s struggle for direction and self- awareness and learn from her example.

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