“Longings, disappointments, and fears teach me how to build their shapes. My imagination makes a choice.”
— Magdalena Abakanowicz
Magdalena Abakanowicz was born in 1930 in Falenty, Poland. She emerged as a young artist in a country devastated by the Second World War, a unique perspective that has unraveled through a distinct sculptural vocabulary, an original use of materials and figurative forms. Layered with meaning, her work carries a timeless, mythic quality.
Magdalena Abakanowicz has had over 150 solo exhibitions in Europe, North and South America, Japan, South Korea, and Australia. She has exhibited at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Jardins du Palais Royal in Paris, and the Muzeum Narodowe in Poznań. Her most recent solo exhibit ions include the Palacio de Cristal, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid and Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno (IVAM), Valencia, both in 2008, and the Fondazione Arnaldo Pomodoro, Milan, in 2009. Several works were exhibited in the Energy and Process wing at the Tate Modern for the duration of 2010, and her survey The Human Adventure was exhibited at the Akbank Art Center, Istanbul, in 2013.
Among numerous awards and distinctions, Abakanowicz has received seven honorary doctorates from universities in Europe and the United States as well as the Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French government. She was also awarded the prestigious International Sculpture Center’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. In the past twenty years Abakanowicz has developed a number of site-specific sculpture installations that incorporate multiple figures or elements of increased scale. Among these are Negev at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 1987; Space of Dragon, Olympic Park, Seoul, South Korea, 1985; Becalmed Beings, Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Japan, 1993; Sarcophagi in Glass Houses, Storm King Art Center, New Windsor, New York, 1994; Space of Unknown Growth, Europos Parkas, Lithuania, 1997-98; Unrecognized, Citadel Park, Poznań, Poland, 2002; Space of Stone, Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, New Jersey, 2003 and, most recently, Agora, a sculptural group comprised of 106 unique cast-iron figures measuring over nine-feet tall that was permanently installed in Chicago’s Grant Park in 2006.
Much has been written about Abakanowicz’s life, how she emerged as an artist from war torn Poland, and her unique vision. Writers have commented on her distinct sculptural vocabulary, its original use of materials and figurative form. Her work is capable of invoking deep feeling and can reach into a timeless, mythic quality. Robert Hughes in Time magazine referred to its “dark vision of primal myth” and Barbara Rose, in her monograph, Magdalena Abakanowicz (Abrams, 1994) wrote the artist is “a shaman who receives and transmits messages in a visual language that is more universal than words.”