Record-breaker! Abakanowicz statues become most expensive artwork ever sold in Poland
A piece of art by Magdelena Abakanowicz has smashed the record for the highest price ever paid for artwork at auction in Poland after selling for an eye-watering PLN 11 million (EUR 2.4 million).
Entitled "Crowd III”, the artwork depicts 50, 170cm-tall hollowed out figures made out of burlap, which resemble the lids of sarcophagi or the bark of tree trunks.
After the hammer fee was added the final price was PLN 13.2 million.
Posting on social media, auction house Desa Unicum said: “The emotional auction of "Crowd III" by Magdalena Abakanowicz has just ended with a staggering sum of PLN 13,200,000.
“Thus, the work of Abakanowicz breaks the record and becomes the most-sold work of art in Poland. Congratulations to the bidders!”
Abakanowicz, who died in 2017, is considered as one of Poland’s greatest artistic exports and her work with cloth in sculpture helped redefine the medium.
A painter, weaver and sculptor often referred to as the "total" artist, she revolutionised work with textiles by giving them spatial form, and her work has been called "Abakans," a name derived from her own.
Each one of the figures in the "Crowd III" group has a different shape and was individually molded by Abakanowicz.
The work was first seen at the artist's first solo exhibition at the Marlborough Gallery in New York in 1989.
Clusters of androgynous figures, devoid of heads and identities, were a recurring theme in the artist's work, and "Crowd III" was the culmination of a series that she had been working on since the 1980s.
DESA Unicum in Warsaw said: “Not without significance, in relation to the political situation in Poland at that time, was the author's use of the multiplication of human figures.
“Against this background, created in 1989, an unquestionably turning point in Polish history, ‘Crowd III’ takes on a new meaning.
“A crowd like each other, hollowed out from the inside, of anonymous figures became for the artist a reflection on the reality of the human masses, isolated from the outside world, constantly standing in lines and properly disconnected from any information deemed forbidden.”
The works of Abakanowicz are in the collections of over 70 museums and public collections around the world, including the National Museum in Warsaw, the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the George Pompidou Center in Paris.