WARSAW, Poland — Renowned sculptor and fiber artist Magdalena Abakanowicz, Poland’s leading visual artist, has died at age 86, the rector of Warsaw’s Academy of Fine Arts said Friday.
Abakanowicz’ disturbing and fascinating work was notable for her larger-than-life, headless human figures, arranged in crowds in open spaces. She primarily used thick fibers, hardened with synthetic resins. But she also worked with metals, stone and wood.
“Abakanowicz drew from the human lot of the 20th century, the lot of a man destroyed by the disasters of that century, a man who wants to be born anew,” said Andrzej Szczerski, head of the National Museum in Krakow.
Her works include “War Games,” trunks of old trees turned into shapes evoking regret. They also include 20 “Walking Figures” in bronze, “Space of Stone” made of granite boulders and the “Unrecognized,” 112 cast iron figures.
She began her career as a painter, but soon moved to making three-dimensional pieces from soft fabrics and fibers, works now known as “Abakans.” That led her to larger, firm sculpture forms to be arranged in natural surroundings.
Her works were shown around the world, including at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan and London’s Tate Modern.