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Maria Bartuszová

Slovakia
1936-1996
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“I would love to implement more things directly outdoors in the countryside—to connect organically my work with the work of nature.”

photo: Archive of Maria Bartuszová

Born in 1936 in Prague, she graduated from the city’s Academy of Applied Arts, Architecture and Design in 1961 with a degree in ceramics and porcelain. As well as studying a wide range of artists such as Jean Arp and Lucio Fontana, she was also much influenced by the organic sculptural forms of Constantin Brâncuşi and Henry Moore. However, her sculptures were often designed to be touched and held in the hand. She created a technique (“gravistimulated casting”) of pouring plaster inside rubber forms and then pressing or binding the form by hand when the plaster began to harden.

Fascinated by the small, fleeting, seemingly incidental, fragile things in the natural world – the flight of dandelion seeds, the rippling of water, air currents – she often photographed her sculptures set within the landscape, as well as staging a number of site-specific works using shell-like forms. Throughout her life, the artist’s methods relied on intuition, play and meditation. Her materials and approaches are symbolic of the prevailing themes in her practice, relating to existence, reflection, growth and decay. She died in 1996 in Kosice (Slovakia).

Untitled, 1986-2003

polyester, 82,5 x 58 x 10 cm
on loan from a private collection

Her sculptures—often intended to be tactile objects as well—were inspired from fragile, ephemeral, rounded shapes appearing in nature, such as raindrops, eggs, parts of the human body, dandelion seeds blowing in the wind, waves and air currents. She often photographed her works in a natural environment, and also made several site-specific compositions out of her shell-like shapes. After her divorce in the early 1980s, her sculptural work took on a new direction: instead of the round, organic shapes of her earlier work, she explored forms that were pressed into the surface and bound. Originally made in 1986 and poured again in 2003, the Untitled (Bez Názvu) polyester panel was made using this technique.