Marcie Begleiter’s portrait of the pioneering postwar artist made its debut, fittingly enough, at the Whitney Museum of American Art last May. Other screenings have included Denver’s Women + Film series, the Washington Jewish Film Festival, and the Wexner Center for the Arts.
Though her career was cut short by a brain tumor that claimed her life at the age of 34 after little more than a decade, Eva Hesse is now recognized as one of the most significant artists to emerge in the postwar period, and amongst the earliest post-minimalists. Transitioning from the rigid structure demanded of minimalism, Hesse’s inventive, difficult to classify work broke the frame, combining painting with sculpture, while also evoking traditionally gendered processes like weaving and threading to create something altogether unique which flipped dismissive conceptions of “women’s work” on their head. Begleiter draws extensively from the artist’s personal journals and correspondence with, among others, mentor and confidante Sol LeWitt, to imbue the film with Hesse’s voice, while her contemporaries, including Robert Mangold, Sylvia Plimack Mangold, Dan Graham, and Richard Serra, reflect on her life and work through interviews, revealing, at the same time, a palpable sense of the male-dominated 1960s New York art scene and its uncharacteristic embrace of female artists like Hesse.