The Art and Soul of Eva Hesse, A Female Artist's Documentary
photo: Barbara Brown
This is the third documentary on a female artist that has truly inspired me to the core. The first having been a docu on Nico of The Velvet Underground (which I am on a soul search to re-watch, hello Netflix!??) and Finding Vivian Maier. It felt good to get the Eva Hesse documentary off of my Netflix watch list, it certainly did not disappoint, although the ending is one of heartbreak.
The magnificence of this documentary directed by Marcie Begleiter is that it's narrated in first person (by way of Selma Blair) taken directly from the pages of Eva Hesse's diary. The film begins with the artist speaking of her earliest works in 1955 titled The Autobiographical Sketch of a Nobody. Hesse expressed, “Pretty face, pretty body, pretty drawings however the person does not feel pretty inside.” The majority of her life she had felt alone and different from others, an ongoing interior struggle that she put into her art.
The documentary focuses on her early childhood having fled from Nazi Germany, then her family settled in New York. By age sixteen, Hesse was a student at Pratt Institute for painting, which she didn't like at all. Soon enough she had left Pratt, worked a stint at Seventeen Magazine and then began to take art classes at Cooper Union.
During the early years of Hesse becoming an artist, it was also the birth of pop art. A brilliant time to be an artist in New York City, the sixties also cultured the Minimalist Movement. This documentary really exposed not just the voice of the artist, but her creative process thankfully due to excerpts from her diary. It also gave deep insight into Hesse's fears, growth, love, pain and dedication to her work. Hesse was an innovator in the art world, figuring out textures, storytelling colors, understanding (or not understanding) composites and using every emotion she had.
The best thing to be is an artist, because it's the only thing that offers freedom to only do things you want to do.