Museum of Contemporary Sculpture
In the Space of Magdalena Abakanowicz
13 July – 6 October 2019
Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko
Museum of Contemporary Sculpture, ‘Orangery’ Gallery, ‘Chapel’ Gallery, ‘Coach House’ Gallery, Sculpture Park, Józef Brandt’s Palace
Curator: Eulalia Domanowska
Cooperation: Henryk Gac
In the summer all the Orońsko galleries and the Sculpture Park will be hosting an extended version of the exhibition In the Space of Magdalena Abakanowicz showcasing the multifaceted oeuvre of the doyen of Polish art. Last spring it was presented at the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design in Riga, a branch of the National Museum. Throughout the 60-year-long artistic activity Magdalena Abakanowicz practised various disciplines of art, transcending boundaries and combining diverse media. It happened on the way of experiments and pursuits. Besides textiles and abakans she made drawings, sculptures, spatial installations, architectural projects, and sculptures in public spaces which may be seen in major collections around Europe, Asia but first and foremost in the USA.
In the Orońsko exhibition the most famous abakans are accompanied by sculptures made from jute canvas hardened with resin: Standing Figures (1986–1987), Backs (1976), Mutants (1994–1996) as well as The Plowman (1996–1997) and others. The exhibition demonstrates the great value the artist attributed to the human figure. Sporadically treated literally, it more frequently occurred as a trace, imprint, carapace or a fragment of tissue. Characteristic of her work are sculpture series presenting single figures or crowds. War Games and Katharsis are a testimony to the artist’s interest in broadly understood nature. The exhibition, organized two years after Abakanowicz’s premature death, is a large scale reminder of her art. The time has come for in-depth studies and recapitulation. How are we supposed to show the work of the great artist and her legacy today, can we say something new about her life and work which should take its due position in the pantheon of the greatest Polish masters?
Magdalena Abakanowicz was one of the best known Polish artists in the world (1930–2017). She created textile art and sculpture, which in her presentation hugely transcended the conventional frames of the discipline. She studied from 1950 to 1954 at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. Initially, she dealt with painting but soon moved to other realms of art – textiles and sculpture. What became a pivotal event, opening the artist’s international career, was obtaining the gold medal at the Biennale in São Paulo in 1965. She won fame with her so-called ‘abakans’ and figurative spatial compositions which were mainly made of textiles, jute but also from wood, stone or bronze. She introduced weaving techniques into the galleries of modern art. Abakanowicz hung the monumental, abstract forms in space, blurring the boundaries between painting and sculpture, between the object and its surroundings. At the same time she was intrigued by the texture of materials. Abakans, made from dyed, sisal fibers delight with their multiplied organicity. The artist wrote: ‘[…] (Abakans) annoyed people. They appeared at the wrong time. In textile art – French tapestry, in art: pop art and conceptual art, and here magical [forms], complicated, huge…’
Magdalena Abakanowicz represented Poland at the Art Biennale in Venice in 1980. She created almost sixty installations in public spaces, among others the large sculptural projects at the Granta Park in Chicago, Olympic Park in Seoul in South Korea, City Museum in Hiroshima, Japan, Storm King Centre near New York, Sculpture Garden of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Europos Parkas near Vilnius, Lithuania, at the Citadel in Poznan. She took part in the famous, historic exhibition analyzing the principles and legacy of feminist art WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles (2007). She presented her works at the Metropolitan Museum in New York and several hundred other museums and galleries in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia. She twice received an award for sculpture from the Sculpture Centre in New York.
The exhibition in Orońsko will be complemented by an international conference to be held on 22 September 2019 within the framework of the Warsaw Gallery Weekend.
Adam Mickiewicz Institute,
The project is co-organised by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute as part of POLSKA 100, the international cultural programme accompanying the centenary of Poland regaining independence. Financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland as part of the multi-annual programme NIEPODLEGŁA 2017–2022.
Foundation of Marta Madgalena Abakanowicz-Kosmowska and Jan Kosmowski in Warsaw,
Museum of Decorative Arts and Design in Riga / Dekoratīvās Mākslas un Dizaina Muzejs, Latvijas Nacionālais Mākslas Muzejs
National Museum in Warsaw,
Art Museum in Lodz,
PKO Bank Polski
documentary films about artists: