Widely regarded as one the most influential and significant artists in post-war Poland and Paris, Alina Szapocznikow (1926-1973) has helped to deconstruct and re-imagine traditional sculpture, solidifying her pioneering vision of the human body, and her distinctively radical hybrids of the organic and inorganic. At once seductive and unsettling, Szapocznikow's intimate works take the form of drawings, photographs, and sculptures often made from direct impressions and casts of body parts, each an attempt to fix the traces of the body and record the fleeting moments and absurd paradoxes of life. Incorporating a completely new set of materials––from tinted polyester resin and polyeurethane foam to everyday materials such as pantyhose, newspaper clippings, and grass––her works embrace both material rigor as well as her own deeply personal psychology. As a vessel for memory and formal innovation, Szapocznikow’s work links the intensely personal to our greater humanity.
Alina Szapocznikow was born in 1926 in Kalisz, Poland, and died in 1973 at the age of 47. After surviving the Second World War in concentration camps with her mother, in 1947, she moved to Prague where she studied sculpture in the studio of Otto Wagner, among others, and later studied at the Ecole de Beaux Arts, Paris in 1949. After returning to Poland in 1951, Szapocznikow represented Poland in the 1962 Venice Biennale, thereafter moving back to Paris, fully formed, at a historically vital time, when artists from Marcel Duchamp to Yves Klein were simultaneously developing pivotal territories propelled out of Formalism. Following her death, several exhibitions of her work were held in Warsaw and Paris, however in recent years, Szapocznikow has been recognized by numerous major international exhibitions, including the first comprehensive retrospective that traveled to the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; WIELS Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels; and the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus (2011-2012); as well as a major survey at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2012).
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