Alina Szapocznikow

  • Born 1926 in Kalisz, Poland
  • Died 1973 in Praz-Coutant, France

Sculptor Alina Szapocznikow once explained that she was "searching for form, searching for the greatest expression of sensuality or dramatic quality." After spending several years in ghettos and prisons during World War II, she moved to Prague in 1945 to study art. From 1946 to 1948 she studied with Otokar Velímsky and then at the Vysoká Škola Uměleckoprůmyslová (Academy of Applied Arts), in the studio of Joseph Wagner. She attended the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts (National School of Fine Arts), Paris, from 1948 to 1951, and returned to Poland, where she immersed herself in contemporary art and participated in several competitions for public monuments. Szapocznikow worked in many traditional mediums, but was noted for pioneering in new materials, namely polyester and polyurethane. Her distinct artistic approach was linked to her wartime incarceration and chronic illness, and her sculptures evoke Surrealism, Nouveau Réalisme, and Pop art. Szapocznikow unremittingly explored the human body (especially her own), its impermanence and fragility, by casting, fragmenting, reassembling, and transforming it. Although the components were modeled on real bodies (often her own), the resulting sculptures approached the abstract, because she decontextualized and rearranged disembodied parts (limbs, lips, breasts, etc.). She was represented in the Venice Biennale in 1962 and finally relocated to Paris the following year.

Artworks by Alina Szapocznikow in the exhibition