Barbara Rose Magdalena Abakanowicz

ISBN 13: 9780810919471

Magdalena Abakanowicz

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9780810919471: Magdalena Abakanowicz
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Magdalena Abakanowicz's sculpture is known and loved around the world. She is revered by artists and art critics for her uncompromising, individualistic vision, developed in her native Poland under the hostile eyes of the repressive Communist regime that was in power for most of her adult life. From the horrors of the Warsaw uprising in 1944 to the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, she has personally witnessed the worst of humanity's instinct for destructive behavior, and has made art that unflinchingly presents the human condition.
Abakanowicz was born to aristocratic parents in 1930 and raised on a country estate east of Warsaw. She came of age against the tumultuous background of World War II and its aftermath. By dint of enormous effort and struggle, she had, by the 1960s, gained the beginning of an international reputation as a sculptor in fibers, a weaver of room-filling environments that were called Abakans. Always alert to the possibilities of using familiar materials in unforeseen ways, she was soon using burlap and resin to make groups of figures that attracted widespread attention and evoked provocative cultural and political associations wherever they were shown. At the Venice biennial of 1980, her ambitious exhibition in the Polish pavilion caused a sensation among critics and the general public alike.
Since then, the level and variety of her work has been nothing short of astonishing. In the 1980s, she began to create powerful and monumental sculptures in bronze, stone, wood, and iron. With works such as Katarsis, Incarnations, and Hand-like Trees, she has transformed bronze casting as she once revolutionized the placid world of weaving. Abakanowicz has also executed important public commissions for large, outdoor sculptures in Europe, North America, Asia, and the Middle East; envisioned a revolutionary new form of architecture; created a cycle of sculptures called War Games that is at once heroic and tragic; and produced figures of youthful circus acrobats that express life's hopes.

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From Booklist:

Noteworthy art historian Rose presents a vibrant and evocative portrait of the great Polish sculptor Abakanowicz. Rose draws upon the many interviews she conducted with the artist over several years to give us a sense of Abakanowicz's voice and personality, but it is the wrenching facts of her life that provide us with the best key to her startlingly original art. Born in 1930 to parents of ancient aristocratic lineage, Abakanowicz spent much of her early childhood climbing trees and passionately observing nature on their sprawling country estate, but this paradise was forever lost once Germany invaded Poland. Victims of violence, the family fled to Warsaw. By the time Abakanowicz was ready for college, she had witnessed countless scenes of suffering, torment she would never forget. Concealing her past from the Communist regime, she enrolled in art school where she quickly rebelled against the rigidity of socialist realism, working right from the start on a grand scale and exploring alternate materials. Her quest led her to fiber and her revolutionary transformation of a craft into a "new vocabulary of expression." Abakanowicz's highly textured, penetrable, and organic fiber sculptures were as complete a break with tradition as her being uprooted by war was a severing from her past. In four decades of courageous and inspired sculpture-making, Abakanowicz has continuously expressed her conscientious objection to war and brutality while affirming her deep and abiding compassion. Donna Seaman

From School Library Journal:

Though her name may not be familiar to the average museumgoer, the work of Abakanowicz-represented in collections worldwide-is unforgettable. Her monumental textiles-crowds of limbless or headless bodies and anthropomorphic ropes-created an aesthetic vocabulary for contemporary art. Polish-born Abakanowicz was able to circumvent the harsh realities of the Communist regime by working in textiles and other traditional "craft" materials. Noted art historian Rose's comprehensive critical analysis of Abakanowicz's transformation of weaving and other "crafts" into fine art and of how the artist can reflect the human condition using overt political references supports Rose's bracketing of Abakanowicz with Picasso and Jackson Pollock. Extensively illustrated, the work also includes a chronology and list of Abakanowicz's exhibitions. Highly recommended for collections with a fine arts interest.-Martin R. Kalfatovic, Natl. Museum of American Art/Natl. Portrait Gallery Lib., Smithsonian Inst., Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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