Magdalena Abakanowicz. My Forms Are Successive Skins I Take Off

opening: August 10th, 2021, at 7:00 PM

exhibition: August 10th – October 1st 2021

exhibition open Mondays to Fridays, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
free entry


9/11 Art Space Foundation and Piekary Gallery have the pleasure of inviting you to My Forms are the Successive Skins I Take Off, an exhibition of works by Magdalena Abakanowicz. The show will have the opening on August 10th, 2021, the show is our contribution to a special occasion as the University of Arts in Poznań is named after the artist. The exhibition sets out to explore the theme of the figure in the artist’s oeuvre, bringing together artefacts from several private collections which are not usually accessible to the public. The project will be complemented by Maciej Kurak and Max Skorwider’s Unrecognised.

Magdalena Abakanowicz is an artist who was associated with the Poznań art community for a quarter of a century; she conceived the programme and ran the Tapestry Studio at the Faculty of Painting, Graphic Arts and Sculpture of the State Higher School of Fine Arts in Poznań (now the Magdalena Abakanowicz University of Arts in Poznań: Abakanowicz has been the university’s patron since January 2021), where she worked from 1965 to 1990, until her creative retirement. In 1975, she was awarded the title of Associate Professor of Visual Arts, and was further recognized with an honorary doctorate in 2002.

Abakanowicz revolutionized artistic weaving, using the technique to create three-dimensional forms that were hung from the ceiling at exhibitions. The dyed sisal which the artist used not only shocked one with its organic character, but also enabled departure from the traditional plane character of decorative textiles. This new approach to artistic textile, which transformed it into a kind of soft sculpture, resulted in the birth of a new form—abakan, named after the artist. Abakans were a subject of much discussion in the art milieu, but they won Abakanowicz the Gold Medal at the São Paulo Biennale in 1965, which launched her international career.

With time, Abakanowicz’s oeuvre saw the rise of works created from pieces of plain sack linen bonded with synthetic resin. Since the 1980s and 1990s, the artist would focused on metal (mainly bronze, as in the case of the 1998 Standing Figure, featured in this exhibition), wood, stone, and even ceramics. The forms she created resembled deformed bodies or parts of the parts of the figure. Magdalena Abakanowicz was primarily interested in the human and their position in the contemporary world, concentrating on the sense of being lost in the crowd, anonymity, and the loss of identity. She also addressed human impotence in the face of the biological structure of the human. She described her art as a tale of the human condition, and the figures she depicted were a kind of avatars of the androgynous “everyman”, with no reference to a specific time.

Abakanowicz delivered many projects of monumental dimensions, intended for exhibition in open spaces. The artist’s works have found their place in Germany, Italy, Israel, the United States, South Korea, Japan and Lithuania, among others. The largest of her works, consisting of a group of a hundred and twelve headless anthropomorphic iron-cast figures measuring over two metres is to be found in Poznan’s Citadel Park. The installation Unrecognized was created in 2002, on the 750th anniversary of foundation of the city of Poznań. Magdalena Abakanowicz remains one of Poland’s most distinguished artists. Her international fame has caused her works to be acquired by the foremost institutions around the world, as well as in numerous private collections. In Poland, the most extensive selection of her works is held by the National Museum in Wrocław.

The artist has been a guest lecturer in Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, Berkeley, Boston, Sydney and Tokyo. She has also received honorary doctorates from such universities as Royal College of Art in London, Massachusetts College of Art in Boston and Pratt Institute in New York.

Photographs by Andrzej Grabowski, Zygmunt Gajewski. Copyright © 2021, Fundacja Marty Magdaleny Abakanowicz-Kosmowskiej i Jana Kosmowskiego

Project co-financed by the City of Poznań and the Marshal Office of the Wielkopolska Region

media patronage: