Barbara Hepworth
Head (Ra)

Gallery 16

About this work of art

Audio description of the work of art

Head (Ra) is a bronze sculpture created in 1971 by modern British artist Barbara Hepworth. English historian Herbert Read is quoted as saying she ‘transcends the difficulties and ugliness of modern life and evokes a vision of radiant calm perfection’.

It stands 53cm high and 40cm wide. The bulk of the sculpture is set on an unpolished bronze, low profile, rectangular base, 38cms by 24cms and 5cm high. Three corners of the sculpture’s outer edges are rounded, its sharpest angle is in the top left, though even this corner is rounded, at its point.

An abstracted shape, at once rectangular and oval, Head (Ra) contains a rounded, concave sink-hole, crisp lines and contrasting finishes. Its front view is a wide, winding path of highly reflective, rich, rose-gold, polished bronze spiralling inwards, distorting light and reflection from the viewer’s perspective. At its centre is a wide hole, also highly polished.

Its outer curvature and base is unpolished bronze; burnished and blackened irregularly.

Hepworth’s mature style was characterised by sensuous, organic abstraction. Head (Ra)draws the viewer’s attention to a juxtaposition of open, light-bending, interior space and the raw surrounding mass.

The sculpture is signed, dated and editioned. Barbara Hepworth, 1971, 7/7 at the back of the flat base.