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A ‘forest’ of Magdalena Abakanowicz’s fabric sculptures to go on display at Tate Modern this autumn
By CW Contributor on 25/2/2022

Abakanowicz studied art in Poland under the stifling edicts of communist rule. She was rejected from the sculpture course at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts – to be an avant garde artist at this time was a dangerous thing. But she was not deterred. When she could not sculpt, she painted, and her paintings were bold, abstract works made in gouache on stitched-together bedsheets. At heart, however, Abakanowicz was a sculptor, and it would take more than the might of Soviet Russia to keep her from her calling.

Abakanowicz worked on a large scale and in a range of materials, which included fabric, stone and bronze. Her public works have found homes across the globe, most notably in Jerusalem and Hiroshima, Japan. Perhaps, the strange quietness of her figurative sculptures – often headless or bowed – lends them the necessary pathos for sensitive sites of memorial and contemplation.

It is, however, Abakanowicz’s striking woven forms that will be the focus of Tate Modern’s exhibition. Constructed from sisal and steel, these sculptures, made in the 1960s and 70s, became known as Abakans and are a result of a transformative time in her fascinating career. These large-scale works added another chapter to the history of installation art and are bound to draw in the crowds.

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