Magdalena Abakanowicz (June 20, 1930 – April 20, 2017) was a Polish sculptor and fiber artist. She is notable for her use of textiles as a sculptural medium. She is widely regarded as one of Poland's most internationally-acclaimed artists. 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.
Acclaimed Polish artist Abakanowicz dies 21.04.2017 16:27 Internationally-acclaimed Polish sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz has died at the age of 86. Magdalena Abakonowicz, pictured in 2010 next to one of her sculptures. Photo: PAP/Tomasz GzellMagdalena Abakonowicz, pictured in 2010 next to one of her sculptures. Photo: PAP/Tomasz Gzell
She remained active almost until the end of her life, exploring new avenues in the arts.
Minister of Culture Piotr Gliński described her death as a profound loss for Polish culture.
“She was a forerunner in many fields of the visual arts; her famous spatial compositions known as ‘abakans’, her trademark, are of immense interest,” he said.
For Adam Myjak, Rector of the Fine Arts Academy in Warsaw, himself a distinguished sculptor, Abakanowicz was an iconic figure, “one of the most outstanding personalities in Polish art, who will forever remain a point of reference for Polish artists.”
He added that she was also an extraordinarily warm person, able to establish rapport with young people.
Abakanowicz studied at the Fine Arts Academies in Warsaw and in Sopot, northern Poland. At the beginning of her career, in the 1950s, she painted monumental gouaches in wild colours, depicting fantastic plants and creatures.
She soon took up textile design, developing her own style of three-dimensional spatial structures suspended from the ceiling, which came to be called “abakans”.
In the 1970s and 80s, her international reputation was further enhanced with figurative sculptures, primarily groups of headless figures standing or crouching on the ground.
She created large-scale open-air spatial designs in Italy, Israel, Germany, the United States and Lithuania.
In 2015, over a hundred of her sculptures were shown at the Venice Biennale under the title "Crowd and Individual".
Abakanowicz had over 100 individual exhibitions and her work is in the collections of over 70 museums and private galleries, including the Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Centre George Pompidou in Paris and the National Museum in Warsaw. (mk/pk)