Magdalena Abakanowicz is a Polish artist who uses textiles as her principal sculptural medium. Curated by Luca Massimo Barbero, the exhibition of her work at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini will focus on her series of Crowds. She has made several versions of these group sculptures with variations in the number of figures and their poses (standing, walking or seated). Forged in various materials, the Crowds have been periodically created by the artist at different stages in her career and are arguably the most important part of her creative production. In various installations and configurations, her Crowds have been exhibited worldwide, from the Städel, Frankfurt to the Museum of Modern Art, New York. There are also several groups exhibited permanently in outdoor settings in locations such as the Raymond Nasher Sculpture Garden, Dallas, the Millenium Park, Chicago and in Poznań.
The exhibition at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini will feature around 80 one-off, jute figures, made individually by Abakanowicz herself. The figures will be assembled one beside the other, to form a very striking group. Visitors are invited to guess at the poses. Are the figures grouped together to defend themselves (are they potential victims)? Or is this crowd about to attack and possibly harm someone? The installation creates a strong tension by placing a powerful group opposite a single individual, who has the semblance of a seated animal, also made of jute. The principal theme in Magdalena Abakanowicz’s sculptures is the fragility of human life and at the same time the cruelty perpetrated by human beings on each other over the centuries: in groups individuals tend to lose their own sense of responsibility and with it their dignity. This installation marks the artist’s return to Venice thirty-five years after she represented Poland at the Biennale in 1980. The exhibition will be staged in collaboration with Magdalena Abakanowicz’s studio in Warsaw and the Beck & Eggeling Gallery