Magdalena Abakanowicz: Crowd and Individual
curated by Luca Massimo Barbero
Venice – works by Polish artist depicting figures in a crowd to go on show. 110 burlap sculptures to be shown for the first time on San Giorgio Maggiore from 12 April to 2 August 2015
Magdalena Abakanowicz (Falenty, 1930) is a Polish sculptor who uses often textile as her principal artistic medium. From 12 April to 2 August 2015 on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore Gallery Beck & Eggeling International Fine Art (Düsseldorf) and Sigifredo di Canossa in collaboration with the Giorgio Cini Foundation will present Magdalena Abakanowicz: Crowd and Individual, curated by Luca Massimo Barbero. Centered around one of her Crowd series, a theme that the artist has visited many times over the course of her long career, a giant installation of 110 burlap figures will be displayed for the first time in Venice.
“Perhaps the experience of the crowd, that waits passively in line, but ready to trample, destroy, or adore on command like a headless creature, has become the fulcrum of my analysis. And perhaps it was my fascination with the scale of the human body. Or a desire to determine how little is needed to express the whole.” This is how Magdalena Abakanowicz has defined her interest in the theme of crowds, a subject that constitutes the most important part of her oeuvre. She has made several Crowds works that vary in the number of figures and the way they are depicted: standing, walking, or sitting. Made of textiles but also other materials, each sculpture is unique and was made by Abakanowicz herself in different phases of her artistic career.
“I think that the impact of Magdalena Abakonwicz’s work”, says curator Luca Massimo Barbero “through the strong sense of a crowd, of a group, assumes a human quality, an essential meaning in which man, often faceless, lost, an outsider, finds himself and also loses himself. The return of such an important work to Venice after its showing at the Biennale - “Studio fatturale” in 1968; “Identità e Alterità, a Brief History of the Human Body” in 1995 where she presented the 22 pieces burlap installation “Crowd I” in the main hall of the Italian Pavilion; “Hand-like Trees” installed on the Riva degli Schiavoni in 1997, and representing Poland at the Polish Pavilion in 1980 with the installation “Embryology” - can be seen as an homage to an artist who stands for and has represented experimentation in sculpture over the last few decades. The theatricality of this group of figures can be seen as the desire to place the visitor and the work on the same level in an exchange that takes place among the “crowds”, which also takes on the quality of an extraordinary, tragic, and human choreography; a game between the two parts: the human and the statue.”
Abakanowicz’s Crowds were shown in various installations and configurations all around the world, from the travelling exhibition Retrospective Exhibition in USA and Canada (1982), among others at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Museum Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Dallas, the Musée d'Art Contemporain, Montréal to the Städel Museum in Frankfurt (1989). In 1991 a big retrospective exhibition was also shown in Japan at the Sezon Museum of Art, Tokyo and at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Hiroshima. Impressive and well worth the exhibition Hurma in 2004 was shown at Chapelle Saint-Louis de la Salpêtrière, Paris.
Many groups of the series are on display outdoors in locations such as the Raymond Nasher Sculpture Garden (Dallas), and the Millenium Park in Chicago and Poznan.
Not least because of her many prestigious shows she is one of the most important sculptors of our time in Poland.
Magdalena Abakanowicz (Falenty, 1930) was born in an aristocratic Polish-Russian family in Poland. The war broke out when she was nine years old. Then came the revolution imposed by Russia and the forty-five years of Soviet domination. Poland was a politically volatile country where instability was a permanent state. She has learned to escape to her corner, to make the best of things, to use whatever was viable and even to make gigantic works in a tiny studio. Her art has always addressed the problems of dignity and courage. She started with soft and pliable objects that were rough to the touch. Shy by nature and lonely in the creative process, she has made her contact with people through over one hundred personal exhibitions. Abakanowicz creates ambiguous images with many meanings. Some are concealed, some combined with others. These are what every viewer must find for him or herself. (Artur Starewicz www.abakanowicz.art.pl)
Tickets: entry free
Production: Beck & Eggeling International Fine Art e Sigifredo di Canossa
Venue: Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore