Three years after her death Abakanowicz is still a ‘must see’

The Tate Modern is bringing together Abakanowicz’s Abakans, which are rarely exhibited together, along with other works by the artist, including some of her early textile pieces and rarely-seen drawings. Tate Modern/ Magdalena Abakanowicz Foundation

The work of sculptor and fibre artist Magdalena Abakanowicz continues to be prized internationally, with a major retrospective of her art opening at the Tate Modern in London later this year.

Abakanowicz, who is known for her use of textiles to create three-dimensional sculptures, was born in 1930 in the village of Falenty in central Poland.

Last October, Caminando, an installation of walking figures that she created out of bronze, was auctioned off for over PLN 8 million (EUR 1,900,000), a record for the Polish art market.Andrzej Lange/PAP

She studied at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts and the Higher School for Plastic Arts in Sopot, on the country’s Baltic coast.

In the 1960s and 1970s, she worked with woven fibre made of sisal – a Mexican agave plant grown use produce fibre for ropes or matting – to create hanging sculptural pieces, which she called Abakans.

The sculptor achieved international fame during her lifetime, becoming known as a pioneer of what is now known as “installation art”.Tomasz Gzell/PAP

The sculptor achieved international fame during her lifetime, becoming known as a pioneer of what is now known as “installation art”, a genre of three-dimensional works that tend to be site-specific and transform how we see a space.

Her work is in public and private collections around the world, from the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris to the Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto. She died in Warsaw in April 2017, at the age of 86.

When asked whether her Backs sculpture which will be on show at the Tate was a reference to Auschwitz, she replied that it’s possible because her art was a “tale of human condition.”Jacek Bednarczyk/PAP

Last October, Caminando, an installation of walking figures that she created out of bronze, was auctioned off for over PLN 8 million (EUR 1,900,000), a record for the Polish art market.

Now Abakanowicz’s work will be the subject of an exhibition at the Tate Modern, one of London’s best-known museums for art.

One of the exhibits to go on show is her return to ‘organic structure’ as evidenced by her 1980 series Embryology made of several dozen soft, egg-like lumps of various sizes.Bartłomiej Zborowski/PAP

The museum will bring together her Abakans, which are rarely exhibited together, along with other works by the artist, including some of her early textile pieces and rarely-seen drawings.

“This exhibition will explore the relationships between the Abakans and a number of other key works, including War Games – wood and iron sculptures incorporating the trunks of felled trees,” writes Tate Modern on its website.

Art market website Artnet.com has called the Tate Modern exhibition of Abakanowicz’s work one of the twenty museum shows to visit in Europe this year.Jacek Bednarczyk/PAP

Organised in collaboration with the Toms Pauli Foundation at the Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts de Lausanne, the exhibition will be shown in London from 17 June to 13 September.

It will be curated by Ann Coxon, curator of International Art at Tate Modern and Mary Jane Jacob, independent curator with Dina Akhmadeeva, assistant curator, International Art. 

Three years after her death Abakanowicz continues to be prized internationally.Jan Michlewski/PAP

Art market website Artnet.com has called the Tate Modern exhibition of Abakanowicz’s work one of the twenty museum shows to visit in Europe this year.