2007 | 61 | 1(276) | 105-109
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Tribal Rhapsody. Private Notes on the Art of Magdalena Abakanowicz

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The numerous sculptures by Magdalena Abakanowicz include unusual visual concepts, meanings and contents relating to man's individual and group experiences. She is interested in all that is alive: man, animal and plant, their diverse 'bodies', which she shapes or commemorates in anthropomorphic or biomorphic forms by using natural material, e. g. wool, canvas, jute, hide, horsehair, and wood but also stone and metal. The characteristic features of her works include monumentalism and a masterly treatment of 'mobile' textures which link the structures of the surface with the very core of a given composition. Abakanowicz is the author of highly unconventional fabrics known as Abakany; these by no means decorative or utilitarian objects comprise large-scale soft sculptures organizing space.The human figures which are, as a rule, incomplete, maimed, naked, headless, armless, and sexually undefined (derived from the myth of Androgyne), are accompanied by Sitting Figures, Backs, Heads, Faces, Self-portraits and the figures and heads of animals. Hundreds of figures - swathed in sacking or cast in bronze - are arranged in rows and crowds against the backdrop of a panorama of large towns, in parks and gardens or on the banks of rivers and lakes. Abakanowicz constantly resorts to the oldest motifs, such as the form of the circle and in Israel arranges large circles composed of limestone in the Negev Desert. Her Sarcophagi bring to mind coffins and the covers of nuclear reactors. Untamed imagination directs her towards architectural- town planning sculpture designed on an immense scale. She is the author of visions of plant-entwined houses-gardens intended for Paris and the 640-metres high Hand Monument, probably the loftiest statue in the world, commemorating the victims of Hiroshima. Her entire oeuvre refers to the existential and spiritual condition of homo universalis and all cultures.
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  • A. Melbechowska-Luty, Instytut Sztuki PAN, ul. Dluga 26.28, 00-950 Warszawa, Poland
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