Magdalena Abakanowicz: Polish sculptor & Fibre Artist

05 Jul 2024
One of Poland’s best known sculptors, in an industry dominated by chancers and spoofers, the work of Magdalena Abakanowicz (1930-2017) has earned her a rightful reputation as one of the most influential artists of her genre. Born in 1930 her family were part of the aristocracy, and fled north the moment the Russkies launched their 1920 invasion of Poland. Distantly related to ancient Mongolian warlords Abakanowicz yo-yoed across Poland in the post-war years, before finally enrolling in Warsaw’s Academy of Fine Arts in 1950. It was during this time of Stalinist repression that she attended compulsory textile classes, acquiring a knowledge of fiber design that would go on to influence her works. She hit the big time in the Swinging Sixties, with 3D reliefs made of dyed sisal fiber. Sometimes reaching over three metres tall, these figures became her signature work, and known to critics as 'Abakans.' By the 1970s she started widening her scope, creating fearsome works comprising of dozens of faceless figures, and visitors to Poznań can today view one of her permanent installations in the Citadel Park – some 112 cast iron headless figures standing over two metres high. Mad as a monkey with a spanner this lady, and well worth further investigation. She passed away in 2017.


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