Magdalena Abakanowicz, the renowned Polish sculptor and fiber artist, passed away on April 20, 2017, at the age of 86. Abakanowicz was best known for her large-scale, abstract sculptures made from natural materials such as burlap, sisal, and hemp.
Born in Falenty, Poland in 1930, Abakanowicz studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw before becoming a professor there in the 1960s. She gained international recognition in the 1960s and 1970s with her series of “Abakans,” which were large, three-dimensional weavings made from natural fibers.
Abakanowicz’s work often explored themes of human suffering and resilience. Her most famous installation, “Backs,” featured 80 larger-than-life bronze figures bent over in various poses, symbolizing the weight of history and the burden of humanity.
Throughout her career, Abakanowicz received numerous awards and honors, including the Grand Prix at the Venice Biennale in 1980 and the Order of the White Eagle, Poland’s highest civilian honor, in 2011.
Abakanowicz’s work can be found in major museums and public spaces around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Her legacy as one of Poland’s most important artists will continue to inspire future generations.