Who is Magdalena Abakanowicz, the artist being honored by Google today?

Magdalena Abakanowicz. Photo: reproduction
Magdalena Abakanowicz. Photo: reproduction

Is it a tapestry or a sculpture? The woven fiber figures of Magdalena Abakanowicz broke the mold when she pioneered a new category of art known as Abakans. Today’s Doodle celebrates the Polish sculptor and multi-element artist. On this day in 1930, Abakanowicz was born in Poland.

+ 11 ways to have more energy throughout the day
+ Bariatric Surgery: How It Works and When to Opt for the Procedure

She belongs to the generation of artists whose childhood ended with the outbreak of World War II and were forced into maturity at a young age. The impacts of her abbreviated childhood were multifaceted and included a unique worldview that influenced her art.

Abakanowicz graduated from the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts in 1954, initially painting 3 × 4 m gouaches on canvas. In the 1960s, she created a series of monumental soft sculptures. Traditionally flat and wall-hung, she transformed the fabric into three-dimensional shapes that filled a room when hung – these flexible sculptures were called Abakans (based on the creator’s last name). They earned her the top prize at the 1965 São Paulo International Art Biennial and made Abakanowicz an internationally acclaimed artist.

Magdalena Abakanowicz. Photo: reproduction
Magdalena Abakanowicz. Photo: reproduction

From the 1970s, the central theme of her work became the human condition. The artist was inspired by the sociological phenomenon “The Crowd” – the idea that crowds act as a whole and individuals lose their individuality within it. From this idea, Abakanowicz began to create over a thousand figures, or rather, human trunks, over the years. The raw materials used by the artist are burlap and bronze. Her Agora collection, a group of 106 iron-cast figures, is considered her most important statement about humanity and is permanently installed at Chicago’s Grant Park.

Museums and prestigious exhibitions around the world feature Abakanowicz’s work. More than 100 solo exhibitions have been organized in museums and art galleries across Europe, the Americas, Japan, and Australia. She won many awards for her art, notably the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Sculpture Center in New Jersey, the Award for Distinction in Sculpture from the Sculpture Center in New York, and the Commander Cross with Star of the Order of Polonia Restituta in Poland. Her rich artistic body is now under the care of the Marta Magdalena Abakanowicz Kosmowska and Jan Kosmowski Foundation, based in Warsaw.

Happy birthday Magdalena Abakanowicz, thank you for sharing the fabric of your life with the world.

Back to top