Eva Hesse with 'Expanded Expansion' at the 1969 exhibition 'Anti-Illusion: Procedures/Materials' at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Symposium: Eva Hesse ‘Looking Back at a Voice for the Future’

  • Fri 3 May 2024
  • 1 – 4.30 pm

On the occasion of the opening week of ‘Eva Hesse. Five Sculptures’, an exhibition celebrating the 25th anniversary of Hauser & Wirth's representation of the Hesse estate, please join us for an afternoon symposium, at our 18th Street location, gathering some of the foremost voices on the artist’s work, including her sister, Helen Hesse Charash; curators Helen Cooper and Linda Shearer; art historian Élisabeth Lebovici; Guggenheim Museum conservators Lena Stringari and Esther Chao; writer, curator and advisor to The Estate of Eva Hesse, Barry Rosen; and Senior Curatorial Director at Hauser & Wirth, Kate Fowle.

The afternoon symposium will feature three key discussions touching on Eva Hesse’s (1936–1970) transformational sculptural language and her pioneering use of alternative materials. Much of the program will highlight one key work, ‘Expanded Expansion,’ as an exemplary focal point of ‘Eva Hesse. Five Sculptures.’ 

Symposium Program 
1 pm 
Foundation: Helen Hesse Charash, Helen Cooper, Linda Shearer and Kate Fowle

2.15 pm 
Area. Aught. Augment. Repetition Nineteen. Expanded Expansion. with Élisabeth Lebovici

3.30 pm 
Conservation: Esther Chao, Lena Stringari and Barry Rosen 

The symposium also marks the occasion of the release of 'Eva Hesse: Exhibitions, 1972–2022,' a comprehensive new book produced by Hauser & Wirth Publishers, which will be available for purchase.

This event is free, however, due to limited capacity, reservations are required. 
Click here to register. 

'Although Hesse did not consider herself a feminist—‘excellence has no sex,’ she famously wrote in a letter to the feminist art historian and critic Cindy Nemser —she was seen as crucial to the women who followed. At a time when it was especially difficult for young women artists to achieve an aesthetic separate from their male peers, she was a role model. Hesse’s courage in the then largely male-dominated art world gave them permission to follow their own instincts, to take what they needed from the art world and transform it.’  

— Helen Cooper, ‘Looking Back at a Voice for the Future,’ in ‘Eva Hesse: Exhibitions, 1972–2022’ from Hauser & Wirth Publishers. 

Eva Hesse, 'Eva Hesse. Exhibitions 1972-2022', 2022. © Hauser & Wirth Publishers

About ‘Eva Hesse. Five Sculptures’ 
‘Eva Hesse. Five Sculptures’, organized by Barry Rosen, longtime adviser to the Hesse estate, in collaboration with art historian and critic Briony Fer, reunites five of the artist’s most celebrated large-scale works, all on loan from major American museums and all made in the most intense period of her practice from 1967 to 1969. Installed on the ground floor of Hauser & Wirth’s building on West 22nd Street, the exhibition will emphasize the breadth, scope, and impact of Hesse’s materially experimental and psychologically charged sculptures. 

In conjunction with the exhibition, Hauser & Wirth Publishers will release ‘Eva Hesse: Exhibitions, 1972–2022.’ Offering insight into Hesse’s landmark solo museum exhibitions from 1972 to the present day, this special volume documents the ways in which exhibitions evolve from ideas to critical reception through the prism of Hesse’s work and her journey to becoming an icon of American art. Texts by the curators involved in organizing these shows reflect the personal dimension of crafting an exhibition, addressing intent and reception. Edited by Barry Rosen and featuring extensive installation views, archival material, ephemera and snapshots, the book brings these exhibitions to life through the voices of Linda Shearer, Nicholas Serota, Ellen H. Johnson, Helen Cooper, Renate Petzinger, Elisabeth Sussman, Sabine Folie, Fred Wasserman, Catherine de Zegher, Fiona Bradley, Briony Fer, E. Luanne McKinnon, Petra Roettig, Brigitte Kölle, Andrea Gyorody and Lena Stringari. 

About Esther Chao
Esther Chao joined the Guggenheim in 2006 and oversees the documentation and intake of new acquisitions and examines and treats works for exhibition and loan. Chao specialized in ethnographic and archaeological materials and worked at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. She was an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in object conservation at the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, in New York, and held internships at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Chao received a BA in art history and anthropology from the University of Arizona and an MA in art history and a Certificate in Conservation from New York University, Institute of Fine Arts. 

About Helen Hesse Charash 
Born in Hamburg, Helen Hesse Charash and her younger sister Eva Hesse were put on a Kindertransport to Holland shortly after Kristallnacht. In 1939 the Hesse family was able to immigrate to America and settled in Washington Heights. Helen went on to graduate with honors from Hunter College, marry, and have two children before going back to earn a master’s degree in library science.

After her sister’s untimely death in 1970, while still working full time in the school system, Helen took on managing her sister’s estate and immersed herself in navigating the art world. She was mentored and guided by Donald Droll and later Barry Rosen. Together with Barry Rosen, they guided the representation of the artist to important galleries, initially Fourcade Droll, then Droll Kolbert and later Robert Miller. The Estate of Eva Hesse is now part of the Hauser Wirth family.

In addition to giving press and television interviews about her sister’s work, Helen was also a part of the Eva Hesse documentary movie. Her passionate commitment to protect the legacy of her sister continues to this day.

About Helen Cooper
During her 39-year tenure at the Yale University Art Gallery, 34 of which she served as senior curator of the department, Helen Cooper demonstrated an impressive range and depth of knowledge of American art history. The remarkable scope of Cooper’s expertise, from colonial portraiture to modern American painting, helped form what is now considered one of the preeminent museum collections of American art in the country.

During her term as curator, Cooper enriched many areas of the collection and also moved it in new directions. She added selectively to the 19th-century holdings, among them landscapes by Thomas Cole, Jasper F. Cropsey, Sanford Gifford, George Inness, John Frederick Kensett, and Fitz Henry Lane, and still lifes by Joseph Decker and John F. Francis. In an underrepresented area of the collection—folk art—undisputed masterpieces were acquired, including John Brewster’s portrait of Comfort Starr Mygatt and his daughter, and Ammi Phillips’s portraits of the Wilbur Sherman family. The area of greatest growth during her term was in modernist paintings and sculpture of the first half of the 20th century, with acquisitions of exceptional works by Thomas Hart Benton, Oscar Bluemner, Alexander Calder, Ralston Crawford, Stuart Davis, Henry Koerner, Walt Kuhn, Gerald Murphy, George L. K. Morris, and Charles Sheeler, among others.

In addition to growing the American art collection in significant ways, Cooper organized several important exhibitions that reveal an equally impressive scope and command of the field, including: John Trumbull: The Hand and Spirit of a Painter (1982), Winslow Homer: Watercolors (1986), Childe Hassam: An Island Garden Revisited (1990), Eva Hesse: A Retrospective (1992), and Thomas Eakins: The Rowing Pictures (1996), all of which were accompanied by important scholarly publications.

Cooper received her B.A. from Syracuse University, and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale University. She is the recipient of several outstanding honors, including an appointment in 2002 as Member of the Committee for the Preservation of the White House. In this and all other professional endeavors, Cooper has contributed her time and expertise to the larger and growing field of American art history.

About Élisabeth Lebovici
Elisabeth Lebovici is an art historian and critic living in Paris. She has been a culture editor for the daily newspaper Libération (1991-2006). Since 2006, she co-curates (with Patricia Falguières and Natasa Petresin-Bachelez) a seminar at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris titled: « Something You Should Know: Artists and Producers ». Her blog. She has been involved since the 1990’s into writing on feminism, activism, queer politics and contemporary arts. Elisabeth is the author, with Catherine Gonnard, of a history of women artists in France between 1880 and the 2000’s :Femmes/artistes, Artistes/femmes, Paris de 1880 à nos jours (Paris, Hazan, 2007). Her book : Ce que le sida m’a fait. Art et Activisme à la fin du 20è siècle. (Zurich : JRP Ringier, « lectures Maison Rouge » 2017 and 2021) (« What AIDS Has Done To Me . Art and Activism at the End of the XXth C ») has initiated an exhibition, EXPOSÉ·ES at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2/16-5/14, 2023)

About Barry Rosen 
Barry Rosen is a curatorial consultant and advisor to the estates of Eva Hesse, Allan Kaprow, Lee Lozano, Dieter Roth and Ida Applebroog. He was on the founding staff of the New Museum, and has contributed to several significant exhibitions, including “Eva Hesse: A Retrospective,” curated by Helen A. Cooper at the Yale University Art Gallery, and “Eva Hesse,” organized by Dr. Petzinger and Elisabeth Sussman and on view at SFMOMA, Museum Wiesbaden, and Tate Modern. He is also editor of Eva Hesse Diaries.

About Linda Shearer
Currently based in Houston, Texas, Linda Shearer has held a variety of art-related positions there, currently as Interim Director of the Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston, as well as at the Center for Photography and the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. She arrived in Houston in 2007 to serve as interim director at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH). She then became the Executive Director of Houston’s renowned Project Row Houses from 2009 to 2015. Prior to coming to Houston, she served as director of the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, and from 1989 to 2004, at the Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Massachusetts.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, New York, she worked at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum for 11 years before becoming director in 1980 at one of the earliest alternative spaces in the country -- Artists Space, also in New York. She served as curator in the Painting and Sculpture Department at the Museum of Modern Art in New York from 1985 to 1989 and was responsible for the Projects series there.

A native of Long Island, New York, she also attended graduate school at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. She has taught contemporary art history at the School of Visual Arts in New York, at Williams College, and Rice University in the Continuing Studies Program. She has participated in many panel discussions, juries, government consultancies and lecture series, and served on numerous boards, including the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) and the American Federation of Arts (AFA). She is currently a member of the Houston Arts Alliance Civic Art Committee.

Working over 50 years in art museums and artist organizations with a focus on contemporary art and artists, Linda Shearer turned to the field of Fine Arts Appraising. Completing the Comprehensive Appraisal Studies Program (CASP), administered by the Appraisers Association of America, NY, in the summer of 2016, she subsequently received the Certificate to begin practice as an appraiser.

About Lena Stringari
Stringari has been deputy director and Andrew W. Mellon Chief Conservator for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation since 2010 and 2008, respectively. Across her full career at the institution, she held various other positions in conservation of contemporary art, exhibitions, and paintings.

A recognized leader in the field, Stringari’s work at the Guggenheim spanned conservation, scholarship, curation, mentorship, and public service. Most recently, she curated the 2022 exhibition Eva Hesse: Expanded Expansion, overseeing the treatment of a work previously considered unexhibitable. She was instrumental in establishing the Variable Media Initiative, which emerged in 1999 as an innovative preservation strategy for media-based and performative works. Under her leadership, the Guggenheim established one of the first labs for time-based media preservation in the nation. More recently, she oversaw the Panza Collection Initiative, a 10-year curatorial and conservation research project focused on minimal and conceptual works from the 1960s and 1970s. Stringari also developed Art Detectives, an innovative summer program that exposes teens from across five New York City boroughs to the intersection of art and science. She has lectured and published extensively on materials and processes of various artists, treatment strategies, and conservation ethics. Stringari served as the executive team liaison to the Guggenheim Green Team, an interdepartmental team that has embedded sustainability practices throughout the institution. She is also a member of the international working group for the Bizot Green Protocol refresh, which establishes greener guidelines for environmental conditions and collections care.

Stringari will be joining the National Gallery of Art in Washington in July 2024, as Chief of Conservation. She is on the board of directors of the Time In Children’s Art Initiative and the art advisory council of the International Foundation for Art Research. She was a founding member of the International Network for the Conservation of Contemporary Art (INCCA) and an adjunct professor at the New York University Institute of Fine Arts for many years. She holds an MS in art conservation from the Winterthur Museum/University of Delaware and a BA in art history from the University of Pennsylvania.