Born near Warsaw, Poland in 1930, this textile artist principally known for her sculpture is also a painter and printmaker. The artist witnessed the horrors of the Nazi occupation, the Warsaw uprising, and later lived in the grim economic conditions of Communist Poland. When confronted by these events, Abakanowicz was able to transform natural and found materials into expressive art. This gift became a distinguishing characteristic of her work, and her experiences continue to shape the themes she explores in her art.
Originally creating abstract pieces, Abakanowicz has moved to figurative work. Whether two or three-dimensional, she uses the minimum amount of detail necessary to create associations for the viewer, but keeps the works open for individual interpretation. Her pieces refer to patterns and complexity in nature as well as nature's ability to destroy and reinvent. Having made separate series of works focusing on torsos, backs, brains, and faces, much of her art focuses on isolated parts of the human body. Abakanowicz creates a junction where primitive and contemporary, dead and alive, and physical and spiritual meet. Her vast artistic achievements carry with them the intensity of her cultural history and her drive to move forward from the adversity she has faced.
The work of Abakanowicz can be found in collections worldwide including the Australian National Gallery of Art, Canberra, Australia; Center for Contemporary Art, Warsaw, Poland; Jardin des Tuileries, Paris, France; Centre Georges Pompidou, Musee National d'Art Moderne, Paris, France; Giuliano Gori Collection, Fattoria di Celle, Santomato di Pistoia, Italy; Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel; Ludwig Museum, Cologne, Germany; Storm King Art Center, Mountainville, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Sezon Museum, Tokyo, Japan; Tate Modern, London, England; and the Sun Jeu Museum, South Korea.