Untitled, Eva Hesse, 1963-64; Collage with watercolor, gouache and ink on paper; 22 x 30 inches

Untitled, Eva Hesse, 1963-64; Collage with watercolor, gouache and ink on paper; 22 x 30 inches

“Stop it and just Do!”: Sol Lewitt’s advice to Eva Hesse

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Eva Hesse (1936-1970) is an artist who is best known for pushing the boundaries of sculpture with her use of plastic and other non-traditional materials in her work. Hesse only worked as a sculptor for the five years before to her death. In that short time she made a significant contribution to contemporary art.

Prior to Hesse’s exploration of various materials in her sculptures, the artist was also a painter. In 1962 and 1963 she produced a series of collages using ink, pencil, gouache, and watercolor. These drawings of broad, overlapping shapes seem to demonstrate the artist’s early interest in spatial relationships that is evident in her later sculptures.

Looking at Eva Hesse’s drawings and watercolors I can begin to see the relationship to her sculptures. As an artist and an educator, what interests me the most is the process of the relationship between her watercolors and sculptures. What was her creative process while she explored watercolors and non-traditional materials in sculpture? How did she find the courage to push herself to her next artistic level?

Eva Hesse’s relationship with the artist Sol Lewitt might be part of the answer to this question. The two met in 1960 and developed a friendship. In 1965, Lewitt wrote Hesse a long letter filled with encouragement:

“Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, grasping…Stop it and just DO!”

“Don’t worry about cool, make your own uncool. Make your own, your own world. If you fear, make it work for you – draw & paint your fear and anxiety.”

In my opinion, Hesse’s watercolors began to conceptualize the artist’s focus on spatial relationships, order, and chaos that her later sculptures demonstrate.

Lewitt’s letter is full of encouragement to Hesse to stop doubting herself and her work and to just make art.

Who in your life encourages you to “just DO!”?

Kate Andrzejczak


Kate Andrzejczak is an art educator and currently teaches art at an elementary school in Alden, New York.