Nadal, Clare (2020) The Personal Library of Barbara Hepworth: A Case Study in the Interpretation and Curation of Artists’ Libraries. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This thesis offers a revisionist account of the work of the modernist sculptor Barbara Hepworth through both the study and display of her personal library housed at The Hepworth Wakefield. In doing so it seeks to offer a non-monographic, non-chronological approach towards her work that invites the contribution of other voices from diverse disciplines and demonstrates the value of different areas of knowledge to the study of Hepworth’s work.

Artists’ libraries are generally an understudied area of the legacy of an artist, which have an uncertain status as to both value and use. The thesis therefore not only questions what we can learn from Hepworth’s library about her attitudes towards reading, but also what is the value of such collections in an artist’s legacy? Employing a curatorial methodology is central to answering this question, which uses the model of the ‘exhibition as research’.

The thesis is divided into two halves, the first examining the Hepworth library as a case study within the curation and interpretation of artists’ libraries more widely, whilst the second approaches the library collection through three different interpretative frameworks. First it considers the library as network through focusing on the interdisciplinary nature of many of Hepworth’s working relationships, relationships that tend to be often overlooked in favour of the artist groupings which she was involved with. Secondly it approaches the library as a tool or resource, sometimes used in tandem with Hepworth’s own creative writing. Finally it considers the library as a collection, thinking about moments of interrelation between different books. The thesis concludes by reflecting on the changing status of artists’ libraries over time and the impact of this for research.

FINAL THESIS - Nadal.pdf - Accepted Version
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