Effigies of Life | A Tribute to Magdalena Abakanowicz (1930 – 2017)

All That Art Foundation / European ArtEast Foundation / Wroclaw 2016 Capital of Culture

Curators: Mariusz Hermansdorfer and Maria Rus Bojan

Dworcowa Public Gallery
Wroclaw Railway Station, 1st Floor
Pilsudskiego 105, Wroclaw, Poland

23rd of June – 25th of August 2017

Produced by Magdalena Mielnicka in cooperation with the Magdalena Abakanowicz Studio
Project generously supported by Irmina Nazar and Artur Trawinski

Sponsors: Mia Art Gallery, Szczawno-Jedlina, Sleep Walker Boutique Hotel, Libra Auction House and FF Fracht sp z o.o.
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A major retrospective Effigies of LifeA Tribute to Magdalena Abakanowicz (1930 – 2017),  features the work of this leading Eastern-European avant-garde artist, notable for her use of textiles as a sculptural medium.

Starting in the 1960s and 1970s, Magdalena Abakanowicz revolutionised the traditional language of tapestry by transforming it into forms meant to elicit complex visual and tactile experiences. With an emphasis on texture and surface, Abakanowicz’s works investigate the dialectics between the organic and inorganic in an attempt to touch upon the limits of life. The heterogeneous shapes and mediums of her work challenge conventional ideas of art and raise questions that are essential and universal to human experience.

The exhibition features major works from all stages of the artist’s career across a series of different venues and public spaces. Opening with the artist’s earliest series of textile works, and concluding with her last monumental sculptures, the exhibition emphasises Abakanowicz’s contribution to the enrichment of twentieth-century art, and her enduring influence on contemporary artists, both in Poland and worldwide.

The exhibition is co-curated by Maria Rus Bojan, an international curator who specialises in Eastern European art, and Mariusz Hermansdorfer, a close friend and life-long collaborator of the artist, and former director of The National Museum in Wroclaw. In one of his seminal texts on the artist Hermansdorfer notes: “Abakanowicz rejects everything that is beautiful and decorative, all wrappings and camouflage. She strips down layer after layer as if flaying a man. Only what is essential remains, what perhaps constitutes the only relevant truth.”  Continuing this reflection curator Maria Rus Bojan remarks: “Abakanowicz’s works are effigies of life. They emphasize everything that for us in Eastern Europe is considered to be important: a form is not only the mould of its content, but also an effigy for eternity, where meaning cannot be detached from form. No other Eastern European artist had been able to capture so profoundly in form and content the essence of the human condition experienced by entire nations under communism.”

The main exhibition takes place in the recently inaugurated city’s public Dworcowa Gallery at the Railway Station and features approximately 150 works. The Public Library’s Gallery at the Swidnicka Passage will house several large pieces from different periods, including the monumental series War Games. Key sculptural works will be installed in other prominent locations across the city including: the square situated in front of the Railway Station; the Starchowice Airport; the Jewish Synagogue; The Bastion Ceglarski; The Contemporary Museum of Wroclaw and The Museum of Architecture.

About Magdalena Abakanowicz

Abakanowicz won the gold medal at the 7th International São Paulo Art Biennial in 1965 and represented her country in the Polish Pavilion at the 1980 Venice Biennale. The artist presented her works in more than a hundred solo exhibitions in museums globally, including: the Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem (1968), The National Museum Stockholm (1970), Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (1975), Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (1982), Das Städel Museum, Frankfurt (1989), Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art (1991), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (1999), Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris (1999), Museum Beelden aan Zee, The Hague (2003) and more recent retrospectives staged at the Museum of Fine Arts Budapest (2005), Trondheim Art Museum (2008), Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid (2008), the Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf (2008) and many other institutions and galleries.

Her works form part of the permanent collection of major museums worldwide, including: Australian National Gallery of Art; Busan Museum of Modern Art; Hiroshima City Museum; Centre Pompidou; Tate Modern; Metropolitan Museum of Art; MoMA; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC.; Walker Art Centre and the National Museum in Warszawa and Wroclaw.