Magdalena Abakanowicz

This week, I went to an exhibition at Tate Modern of work by Polish textile artist Magdalena Abakanowicz.

Photo credit: Tate Modern

Actually, the artist herself, who lived from 1930- 2017, did not like to be categorised as a ‘textile artist’.

She trained as a tapestry weaver and the exhibition included some of her early work which is highly textural – and constructed on a very large scale.

This photo shows a detail of the surface.

Later, her work became more three-dimensional. These sculptural woven forms were often hung from above.

The materials used are mostly sisal, sometimes including wool and horsehair. The intention was for the viewer to engage with the sculpture in the space. Several pieces made reference to the natural world, including to branches and roots. These pieces defied formal labelling; the artist herself called them ‘Abakans’ (after her own surname).

The photo above, of my favourite artwork, indicates the extraordinary scale of these pieces. This was one of several sculptures from a series in the late 1970s entitled ‘Embryology’ that clearly reference the human body.

These unusual forms are not literal depictions of human organs but of strange organic forms.

This was an intriguing, impressive, sometimes troubling (even frightening) exhibition. I was pleased to have this introduction to this artist who useds Textiles as her medium.

Published by Amanda Jane Textiles

I am an artist, designer and maker living in Ramsgate, UK

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