Figures by Magdalena Abakanowicz

During the 1970s, and into the 1980s, Abakanowicz changed medium and scale; she began a series of figurative and non-figurative sculptures made out of pieces of coarse sackcloth which she sewed and pieced together and bonded with synthetic resins. These works became more representational than previous sculptures but still retain a degree of abstraction and ambiguity. In 1974-1975 she produced sculptures called Alterations, which were twelve hollowed-out headless human figures sitting in a row. From 1973–1975 she produced a series of enormous, solid forms reminiscent of human heads without faces called Heads. From 1976-1980 she produced a piece call Backs, which was a series of eighty slightly differing sculptures of the human trunk.

Title: Figures
Creator: Magdalena Abakanowicz
Date Created: 1970s
Style: arte powera
Provenance: Jan and Meda Mladek Collection
Physical Dimensions: h1700 mm
Original Title: Figury
Type: Sculpture
Medium: hardened burlap, laminate
From the collection of Museum Kampa

Magdalena Abakanowicz
June 20, 1930 – April 20, 2017

Magdalena Abakanowicz is a Polish sculptor and fiber artist She is notable for her use of textiles as a sculptural medium She was a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań, Poland from 1965 to 1990 and a visiting professor at University of California, Los Angeles in 1984 Abakanowicz currently lives and works in Warsaw

Under Soviet control, the Polish government officially adopted Socialist realism as the only acceptable art form which should be pursued by artists Originally conceived by Joseph Stalin in the 1930s, Socialist realism, in nature, had to be ‘national in form’ and ‘socialist in content’ Other art forms being practiced at the time in the West, such as Modernism.

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Abakanowicz completed part of her high school education in Tczew from 1945 to 1947, after which she went to Gdynia for two additional years of art school at the Liceum Sztuk Plastycznych in that city After her graduation from the Liceum in 1949, Abakanowicz attended the Academy of Fine Arts, then located in Sopot (now in Gdańsk) In 1950, Abakanowicz moved back to Warsaw to begin her studies at the Academy of Fine Arts, the leading art school in Poland

A major freedom granted to Polish artists was the permission to travel to several Western cities, such as Paris, Venice, Munich, and New York City, to experience artistic developments outside the Eastern bloc This liberalization of the arts in Poland and injection of other art forms into the Polish art world greatly influenced Abakanowicz’s early works, as she began to consider much of her early work as being “ too flamboyant and lacking in structure” Constructivism began to influence her work in the late 1950s as she adopted more a more geometric and structured approach Never fully accepting Constructivism, she searched for her own “artistic language and for a way to make her art more tactile, intuitive, and personal” As a result, she soon adopted weaving as another avenue of artistic exploration

Museum Kampa, Prague, Czechia

In 1999 the owner of the building, the City of Prague, concluded an agreement with the Jan and Meda Mladek Foundation on the long-term free lease and reconstruction of the building. Reconstruction was covered by the City of Prague, while the Foundation took care of the art collection that would be exhibited to the public. The reconstruction of the Sova’s Mills was contracted to Studio 8000 and new glass structures, designed by three Czech artists – Václav Cigler, Marian Karel and Dana Zámečníková – were added (the glass footbridge over the navigation channel, the watercourse running through the courtyard and the glass cube on top of the tower). The public could inspect the Sova’s Mills for the first time on 26 September 2001, although it was officially opened on 8 September 2003, after repairing the damage caused by devastating floods in summer 2002 when Kampa Island was entirely underwater. A massive wooden chair by Magdalena Jetelová has been placed on a mole in the river.