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Magdalena Abakanowicz

Poland
1930-2017
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"Art will remain the most astonishing activity of mankind born out of struggle between wisdom and madness, between dream and reality in our mind."

photo: Archives of the Magdalena Abakanowicz Kosmowska and Jan Kosmowski Foundation

Born in 1930, in the town of Falenty (Poland), Magdalena Abakanowicz graduated from the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts in 1954. It was in the following decade (1965-1975) that she gained international renown for her large installations of flexible, three-dimensional sculptures called Abakans­­­—in reference to her own name. One of the first artists to experiment with textile sculpture, she initially made abstract works, despite the social realist art policies in Poland at the time.

She turned to figurative textile works in the 1970s, creating the headless and fragmented human forms for which she is best known. She began receiving public commissions, which led her beyond textiles to materials such as bronze, wood, stone, and clay. Her work has appeared in numerous group and solo exhibitions around the world, including at MoMA, Warsaw’s Zachęta National Gallery of Art and the Tokyo National Museum of Modern Art (MOMAT). She died in 2017 at the age of 86. A solo exhibition of her works at the Tate Modern (London) is planned to be held in 2021.

“Untitled” from the cycle “Flies”, 1993

charcoal on paper, 100 x 80 cm

“I no longer remember when I received my first paper. I drew kneeling on the floor. The lines escaped from the sheet, running along the floor- boards, losing themselves in the shadow of the furniture. The drawing could be charged with secret power.” MA