ABAKANOWICZ, Magdalena (1930 - 2017)

ANNA, 1965
Tapestry and mixed media
300 x 400 cm
Date of entry at UNESCO
Country of origin Poland
Donating country Poland
Donation made to UNESCO by Poland
© Photo : UNESCO

"Anna" is part of the first original series of tapestry works by Magdalena Abakanowicz at the béginning of the 1960s. Referring back to her own name, this term encompasses the large tapestry-installations consisting of supple sculptures that she created as of the 1960s. It here comprises of a structured canvas – or flexible, sculpted forms - of jute, wool, horsehair … various materials that refer back to the animal world as much as the plant one.

Abakanowicz uses various tapestry-making and embroidery techniques, as well as more modern ones, in order to weave her works. When explaining her Abakanys in the documentary “Interiors, Exteriors” by Thierry Spitzer in 1999, she says:

“In the 1960s, the Abakanys were a step. Many complex reasons gave birth to their creation. But above all, there was this need to prove to myself and to others that I could cross the boundaries of traditional weaving; to make it sublime, transcend it in order to make it art in its purest form.”

Artist Biography

Magdalena Abakanowicz was born in Falenty (Poland) in 1930 and graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts of Warsaw in 1954. She is especially known for her “Abakanys” and more generally for her sculptural work made out of textiles. She often worked on issues relating to the human condition and created a ‘population’ of figurative sculptures out of canvas and resin, and later bronze. She also executed a series focused on both real and imaginary animals.

Abakanowicz has written diverse metaphorical texts alluding to her childhood, the human condition, the brain structure, mythology and religion. At the beginning of the 1990s she developed “Arboreal Architecture”, an ecological city concept where she created houses with organic shapes covered in vegetation, hence transforming each dwelling into a vertical garden.

Abakanowicz has received numerous distinctions throughout her career. Her works are exhibited in museums across the world, such as the Ludwig Museum in Cologne (Germany), the National Gallery of Art in Washington (USA), the City of Hiroshima Museum (Japan), the Center of Modern Art in Warsaw (Poland), the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid (Spain) or the Museum of Modern Art in Paris (France).

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