Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz gives Budapest the ´Bird´

"Bird" by Magdalena Abakanowicz (2005) at Art on Lake Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)
“I feel overawed by quantity where counting no longer makes sense. A crowd of people, birds, insects, or leaves is a mysterious assemblage of variants of certain prototype.

“A riddle of nature´s abhorrence of exact repetition or inability to produce it. Just as the human hand cannot repeat its own gesture, I invoke this disturbing law, switching my own immobile herds into that rhythm.”

Contemporary sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz didn´t exactly 'give' the `Bird` to the Museum of Fine Arts Budapest for its current Art on Lake marine exhibition of 25 European Union concept artists.

The Wroclaw Museum loaned the Abakanowicz work she made in 2005 for Art on Lake, which opened 22 May and closes 4 September.

The 81-year-old contemporary sculptor has come along way since art school (1950 – 54).

Arguably, she owes a debt of considerable gratitude to the hard-nosed, conservative and rigid art education forced on her by Socialist Realists and party-member professors.

"Abakans" by Magdalena Abakanowicz
The Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts made her take textile and fiber design classes, weaving and screen printing.

She credits those skills, coupled with her talent, for propelling her to international acclaim with her series of humanoid, woven sculptures, some as tall as two meters, with heads, without, torsos only, heads only.

Abakanowicz called her them "Abakans." The name and her fame became well known and her works desired by the world´s contemporary art museums-- almost over night, according to Art on Lake curators.

That was in the 1970´s and 1980´s.

She usually created these in quantities of between 50 and 1,000, each one different from the other.

Her techniques remain a secret.

She switched to metals in the 1990´s as well as stone, clay and wood, cast iron.

"Abakans" by Magdalena Abakanowicz
Art on Lake´s catalogue describes the “Bird” as a “gigantic metal butterfly, wings spread out as if about to take flight. The form is built up of welded metal sheets, the seams resembling the pattern of a bird or beetle.”

Abakanowicz and her works are no stranger to Hungarians.

She first exhibited a retrospective in the Mucsarnok/Kunsthalle in Budapest in 1988.

In 2004, the Museum of Fine Arts Budapest bought a major work on show at the Kunsthalle—“Cage II (1986)”.

One of Art on Lake´s curators—Krisztina Jerger, Dr. Alexander Tolnay and Peter Fitz—in the show´s catalogue, called Abakanowicz "one of the greats of Polish art."

"Bird" by Magdalena Abakanowicz (2005) at Art on Lake Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)
Rock on and practice peace and love.
Stefan, the ArtTraveler ™

ArtTraveler notes:

After living at the Hotel Queen Mary in Budapest (3.5 stars), I heartily recommend it: old on the outside, otherwise totally modern (23 rooms); 

The owner and staff are affable and speak English and German. Tel: 0036-1-413-3510;;

Visit Andalusia for a walking holiday or week-long sculpture or mosaics workshop. 

"Spanish Life Stilled," photograph by Stefan van Drake (2009)

You may reach me at or by calling (34) 915 067 703 or from the UK at BT landline rates, 0844 774 8349.

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