A red webbed material hangs from a door frame.Long curly red loops drape down from the sculpture.

Build and suspend your own sculpture inspired by Eva Hesse!

We want to see your creations! Share on social media @hirshhorn with #HirshhornInsideOut.

Time: 30–45 minutes
Skill Level: Intermediate
Topic: Sculptural Suspension


LOOK CLOSELY

A black ball held inside a black net is suspended from the ceiling in an empty room with white walls.

Eva Hesse, Vertiginous Detour (1966). Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, Joseph H. Hirshhorn Purchase Fund, 1988.

Look closely. What do you see? What materials do you think the artist used?

How big do you think the sculpture is? How do you think the artist constructed this?

This sculpture is called Vertiginous Detour by Eva Hesse. “Vertiginous” means to cause vertigo, which is a feeling of losing balance. Have you ever spun around really fast and felt dizzy afterward? That dizzy feeling is like vertigo.

Why do you think the sculpture is named Vertiginous Detour ?

Try this. Tie a small object to the end of a piece of string. Hold the string up with the object dangling from the bottom. You may notice that your object spins slightly when you suspend it from the string.

Eva Hesse used papier-mâché (French for pulped paper), rope, a ball, and netting to create this sculpture. The rope suspends, or holds up, the ball within the net. Hesse experimented with industrial materials such as plastic, rubber, and rope, to create her sculptures.

Eva Hesse (1936–1970) was an German-born American artist. In New York, she worked as a textile designer and her early work includes more conventional artistic media like collages, drawings, and paintings. Hesse briefly moved back to Germany, where she saw materials that inspired her to start making sculptures using unexpected materials such as rope, rubber, and wax. Unlike most sculptural materials, many of the materials she used break down as time passes. Hesse used these materials to imitate life and the way in which things change over time. She is best known for these abstract sculptures that use unusual materials. Hesse died very young of a brain tumor. Even though her professional/artistic career only lasted 10 years, she was one of the most influential artists of her time.


MAKE IT!

For this project, we take inspiration from Vertiginous Detour by Eva Hesse to create our own suspended sculptures.

  1. Gather: paper, drawing tools, tape, and scissors.
    An arrangement including a white piece of paper, red marker red pencil, scissors, and tape.
  2. Take a material hunt. Search for materials that can stretch and suspend. You might look for string, rope, crepe paper, produce nets (like the kind onions or oranges come in), old ripped nylons or tights, balloons, and other suspense-full materials! What can you find?
  3. Play with your found materials. What can they do? How can you stretch or suspend them? Do any of them work together? Choose the combination that’s most interesting to you.
  4. Imagine your suspended sculpture. What does it look like? Hesse often worked in a minimalist style, which we decided to embrace by only using the color red in our sculpture.
  5. Make a sketch of what you want your sculpture to look like. Think about the colors, shapes, and materials you might use.
    A sketch of a red V-shaped web with looped strings hanging down. A red pencil and red marker rest beside the paper.
  6. Hunt for sculpture materials. Take time to search for other materials that spark your imagination, if you like, or jump in and get started! Hesse often used industrial materials like plastic, latex, and rubber. We chose red produce net, popsicle sticks, and rubber bands for our sculptural materials.
    An arrangement including a roll of tape, red rubber bands, scissors, red popsicle sticks, and a red produce net.
  7. Experiment with your materials. How do they feel? Can you bend them? What shapes can you make with them? Explore the possibilities by placing your materials together in different ways. Can you connect them by lacing, stacking, tying, or taping?
    A hand ties a rubber band between the webbing of a red produce net.
  8. Build your sculpture. Use your hands, scissors, and tape to place your materials in their final position.
    A red produce net cut in a V-shape. Seven evenly spaced rubber bands have been attached along the bottom edge, creating long loops.
  9. Suspend your sculpture. Choose a location you like! You may need to use tape to keep your sculpture steady. Note: Little hands may need help from an adult to suspend their sculpture.

    A hand affixes a red net to a door frame with a piece of masking tape.

  10. Title your work. We named ours Flying Web.
    A red webbed material hangs from a door frame. Long, curly red loops drape down from the sculpture.