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He was born in 1903, in Wakefield (West Yorkshire). He attended the Wakefield Girls High School, and studied at the Leeds School of Art (where he met Moore) between 1920 and 1921, as well as at the Royal College of Art in London (1921-1924). Later he studied for a time in Italy.
His beginnings were influenced by the work, among others, of Henry Moore, with whom he had friendship. He belonged to an important group of European artists who worked traditional materials in an innovative way. His work is characterized by the hollow spaces within the sculpture. For her, the natural properties of the material must definitely form the work. He worked mostly in wood or stone; effecting an activity of an abstract nature.
His first marriage was with the sculptor John Skeaping, from whom he divorced in 1933. His second marriage, held in 1938, was with the painter and abstract sculptor Ben Nicholson, whom he had known in 1931 and from whom he had had triplets in 1934; they divorced in 1951. Hepworth and Nicholson were key members in the English abstract art movement of the 1930s.
After the Second World War he became, along with his colleague Henry Moore, one of the most important revelations of the sculpture of his generation. With the years his works were reaching bigger size; see, for example, Single Form, the monument to Dag Hammarskjöld (1964) at the United Nations headquarters in New York, United States, which is one of his most prestigious works.
She was named Lady in 1965, ten years before her death during a fire in her workshop in St Ives, Cornwall, at seventy-two years of age. The workshop and his home form the Barbara Hepworth Museum.
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