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The National Museum in Krakow - Main Building, al. 3 Maja 1

June 19 - August 29, 2010

Magdalena Abakanowicz is one of the most distinguished artists of the latter half of the 20th century. She studied at Warsaw's Academy of Fine Arts from 1950-1954. Having completed her studies, in the 1960s, she began to develop her own, individual technique. Using textiles, a medium which, traditionally, come closer to painting, she started to create monumental and autonomous sculpted works relating to a broad concept of human identity in both a universal and a private, if not to say intimate, dimension. These works, towering structures, suspended, as a rule, from the gallery ceiling, and so characteristic of Abakanowicz, were known as Abakans. In the 1970s, however, she began working on figurative sculptures, which she exhibited in multi-element 'assemblies'. Her hosts of statues, headless figures standing, or crouching, curled up, on the ground, their backs exposed, enraptured an international public which naturally included critics, curators and art historians. This found expression in the Gold Medal awarded to the artist at the São Paulo Art Biennial in 1965. From then onward, Abakanowicz's international career forged ahead and never looked back. Even now, she continues to test herself in a variety of materials, striving to encompass universal themes, often expressing them from the perspective of personal experience.

The Magdalena Abakanowicz exhibition at the National Museum in Krakow will be an overview of her work from the 1960s to the beginning of this century, covering selected works from her enormous output. It will include such works as Rounded Abakan (1967), or the crowd of faceless figures, Backs (1976), both sculpted in fabric, the technique so characteristic of her work. The spectacular Embryology, which Abakanowicz showed in the Polish Pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia (1980), will be on view at the Museum, as will her cycle of paintings, Faces which are not portraits (1983).

The exhibition in the modernist Main Building of the National Museum in Krakow, will be monumental, yet, at one and the same time, minimal in form and will impel reflection on the drama of the fight for one's own identity, a fight which leads, in the final resort, to the defence of the body against its annihilation.  At one and the same time, the show will also make it possible to look at this distinguished artist's work from today's perspectives, perspectives which, subsequent to the experience of late 20th century art both in Poland and across the world, will instigate analyses and conclusions that have remained unrecognised until now.


Curator: Dominik Kuryłek
Coordinator: Izabela Wałek
Design: Robert Rumas


Special thanks to Magdalena Abakanowicz and her assistants: Magdalena Grabowska, Stefania Zgódka, Tomasz Piątkowski

Patron of teh exhibition:






Media patrons:
TVP Kraków,Radio Kraków, Polityka, Gazeta Wyborcza, AMS, Art&Business,, ONET, Magiczny Kraków, Cracow-life, Krakow POst, Kurs na kurs, Artinfo

Embryology, 1978-1980, National Museum in Wrocław (photo: Jan Nordahl)
Back, 1976, National Museum in Wrocław (photo: Jan Nordahl)
Plecy, 1976, Muzeum Narodowe we Wrocławiu (fot. Jan Kosmowski)
Magdalena Abakanowicz working on Embryology, 1980 (photo: Artur Starewicz)
From the Faces Which Are Not Portraits series, 1983, Collection of the Artist (photo: Jacek Świderski)
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