A major retrospective Effigies of Life, A Tribute to Magdalena Abakanowicz (1930 – 2017), will feature the work of this leading Eastern-European avant-garde artist, notable for her use of textiles as a sculptural medium. The exhibition will run from 23rd June through 25th August across multiple venues and public spaces in the city of Wroclaw and is the first retrospective of the artist to be held in the city.  The retrospective is organised by Bureau Wroclaw ECC 2016 and the City’s Public Gallery at Dworzec Glowny PKP,  All That Art Foundation, and The European ArtEast Foundation in cooperation with the Magdalena Abakanowicz Studio.  


Starting in the 1960s and 1970s, Magdalena Abakanowicz revolutionised the traditional language of tapestry by transforming it into forms meant to elicit complex visual and tactile experiences. With an emphasis on texture and surface, Abakanowicz’s works investigate the dialectics between the organic and inorganic, in an attempt to touch upon the limits of life. The heterogeneous shapes and mediums of her work challenge conventional ideas of art and raise questions that are essential and universal to human experience.


The exhibition features major works from all stages of Abakanowicz’s career across a series of different venues and public spaces. Opening with the artist’s earliest series of textile works, and concluding with her last monumental sculptures, the exhibition emphasises Abakanowicz’s contribution to the enrichment of twentieth-century art, and her enduring influence on contemporary artists, both in Poland and worldwide. The exhibition is co-curated by Maria Rus Bojan, an international curator who specialises in Eastern European art, and Mariusz Hermansdorfer, a close friend and life-long collaborator of the artist and former director of The National Museum in Wroclaw. In one of his seminal texts on the artist Hermansdorfer notes: “Abakanowicz rejects everything that is beautiful and decorative, all wrappings and camouflage. She strips down layer after layer as if flaying a man. Only what is essential remains, what perhaps constitutes the only relevant truth.” Continuing this reflection curator Maria Rus Bojan remarks: “Abakanowicz’s works are effigies of life. They emphasize everything that for us in Eastern Europe is considered to be important: a form is not only the mould of its content, but also an effigy for eternity, where meaning cannot be detached from form. No other Eastern European artist had been able to capture so profoundly in form and content the essence of the human condition experienced by entire nations under communism.”


The main exhibition takes place in the recently inaugurated city’s public gallery at the Railway Station (Dworzec Glowny PKP) and features approximately 120 works. The Public Library’s Gallery at the Swidnickie Passage will house several large pieces from different periods, including the monumental series War Games. Key sculptural works will be installed in other prominent locations across the city including: the series Bambini, consisting of 83 pieces in the square situated in front of the Railway Station; the series Birds at the Starchowice Airport; the massive bronze Walking Man in front of the Jewish Synagogue, and the colossal iron skulls entitled Corten Armour 1 and 2 at The Bastion Ceglarski. Other works in bronze will be displayed outdoors at The Contemporary Museum of Wroclaw and The Museum of Architecture.


About Magdalena Abakanowicz

Abakanowicz won the gold medal at the 7th International São Paulo Art Biennial in 1965 and represented her country in the Polish Pavilion at the 1980 Venice Biennale. The artist presented her works in more than a hundred solo exhibitions in museums globally, including: the Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem (1968), The National Museum Stockholm (1970), Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (1975), Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (1982), Das Städel Museum, Frankfurt (1989), Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art (1991), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (1999), Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris (1999), Museum Beelden aan Zee, The Hague (2003) and more recent retrospectives staged at the Museum of Fine Arts Budapest (2005), Trondheim Art Museum (2008), Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid (2008), the Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf (2008) and many other institutions and galleries.


Her works form part of the permanent collection of major museums worldwide, including: Australian National Gallery of Art; Busan Museum of Modern Art; Hiroshima City Museum; Centre Pompidou; Tate Modern; Metropolitan Museum of Art; MoMA; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC.; Walker Art Centre and the National Museum in Warszawa and Wroclaw.


The exhibition is produced by Magdalena Mielnicka and mia ART GALLERY Wroclaw with the generous support of Irmina Nazar and Artur Trawinski, founders of The European ArtEast Foundation .


Main Sponsor: Marchewka Family Foundation

Sponsors: Uzdrowisko Szczawno-Jedlina, Sleep Walker Boutique Hotel, Libra Auction House and FF Fracht sp z o.o.


Effigies of life. A tribute to Magdalena Abakanowicz (1930-2017)

Dworcowa Gallery, 1st Floor

Main Railway Station

Pilsudskiego 105, Wroclaw

Running: 23.06 - 25.08.2017


MON- closed

TUE- 12-17

WED- 13-20

THU- 12-17

FRI- 12-17

SAT- 12-17

SUN- 12-17