Even by the standards of documentaries about the art world — and they’re a genre unto themselves, for sure — Marcie Begleiter’s Eva Hesse is a bit on the inside-baseball side. Born in Germany in 1936 and raised by a father who could never quite accept her desire to be an artist, Hesse rose to some prominence in the New York art scene when it was exploding during the 1960s, and when — surprise, surprise — it was male-dominated. Hesse didn’t really find her voice until late 1965, and she died of a brain tumor in 1970 at age 34, leaving behind an astonishing number of minimalist artworks. We’re assured that by and large they’re masterpieces, though only Accession II (a box comprised of plastic tubes that deadens sound) really makes an impression to one not versed in such things. There’s no question that Hesse was pretty — almost as big a deal is made about her physical beauty as was made about art patron Peggy Guggenheim’s perceived lack of beauty in Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict — but aside from her laudable work ethos, Hesse never comes across as an interesting documentary subject. Eva Hesse has its moments, but may not hold much interest for those not already versed in the subculture that it covers.
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