Standing Figures (Thirty Figures) by Magdalena Abakanowicz

Magdalena Abakanowicz’s figures are instantly identifiable by their stark imagery. The haunting power of these headless, standing figures invites many interpretations, and the artist welcomes this approach. Could they be awaiting final judgment? Do they suggest war victims? Are they primordial beings in silent communication? Each figure is individually cast from a burlap-lined body mold.

In 1986-87 she created a series of fifty standing figures called The Crowd I. She also began to once again work around organic structures, such as her Embryology series, which consisted of several dozen soft egg-like lumps varying in size. These were dispersed round an exhibition room at the Vienna Biennial in 1980.

Title: Standing Figures (Thirty Figures)
Creator: Magdalena Abakanowicz
Date Created: 1994-1998
Physical Dimensions: w16547.59 x h1880.62 x d6007.61 ft (Overall )
Culture: Polish
Type: Sculpture
Rights: Gift of the Hall Family Foundation © Magdalena Abakanowicz, courtesy Marlborough Gallery, New York, © Magdalena Abakanowicz, courtesy Marlborough Gallery, New York
Medium: Bronze
From the collection ofThe Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Magdalena Abakanowicz’s figures are instantly identifiable by their stark imagery. The haunting power of these headless, standing figures invites many interpretations, and the artist welcomes this approach. Could they be awaiting final judgment? Do they suggest war victims? Are they primordial beings in silent communication? Each figure is individually cast from a burlap-lined body mold.

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

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, United States

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is internationally recognized for its outstanding collection of more than 33,500 objects. From ancient times to modern day, this encyclopedic museum is one of the best in the country, offering visitors the opportunity to explore civilization through the eyes of painters, sculptures, craftsmen, and many other artists.