The Body of Work

Hans Breder, Ana Mendieta, and the Body/Sculpture Series

Hans Breder, La Ventosa (Ana Mendieta) (1973)

German-born artist Hans Breder emigrated to New York in 1964, where he took up work as assistant to the sculptor George Rickey. After his successful solo show of sculpture at Richard Feigen Gallery in 1967, Breder accepted a professorship at the University of Iowa and went on to found the school's cutting-edge Intermedia and Video Art Program. 

When Breder met a 20-year-old Ana Mendieta in 1969, he had already experimented with the insertion of mirrors into photographic works, a technique that served to fragment and disorient both the image's subject and its viewer. His encounter with Mendieta, however, would prove pivotal to both artists' works. Their earliest collaboration was Breder's Body/Sculpture series, which he created with Mendieta and other models from 1969–1973 – the model in this work may very well be Mendieta. 

The Body/Sculpture series served as a shared beginning of sorts for Breder and Mendieta, whose partnership was both creative and romantic. The pair traveled to Mexico annually, and Breder helped to create some of Mendieta's early celebrated works merging performance, land art, and image-making. The works that the pair created while in each other's orbit were the subject of the 2008 exhibition Converge: Works by Ana Mendieta and Hans Breder, 1970–1980 at Galerie Lelong; as the gallery's text summarized, "Both Breder and Mendieta were attracted to transformation, the body, and a hybrid of process and product."