Disembodied heads, desk lamp lips, breasts in ashtrays and dessert bowls, Alina Szapocznikow’s work pulses with dark humour and shines a spotlight on mass consumerism of femininity and objectification.
Incorporating Surrealism and Pop Art, Alina Szapocznikow’s work encompasses the vulnerability of the human body and the tenacity of survival. Pioneering new and unconventional materials such as tinted polyester resin, polyurethane foam, newspaper clippings and grass she radically pushed the boundaries of what sculpture could be and redefined classical ‘heroic’ assumptions of what sculpture should represent.
Born in Poland in 1926, she was interned in concentration camps while a teenager, a time she refused to discuss in later life. However, her casts of body parts and fragmented limbs speak to a knowledge of horror where bodies are objects.
Szapocznikow cast her body and used these fragments to transform art into everyday objects. Lips and breasts become lamps, fragments of her face a vase for flowers, her head an ashtray. Her fearless originality questions the consumerism of femininity and the female experience and speaks to a dark humour which underlies her work.
Szapocznikow died in 1973 at the age of 47.
Widely known in Eastern Europe during her lifetime, Szapocznikow has recently been recognised internationally. Recent shows include Sculpture Undone at MOMA, and in the UK in the celebrated group show, Dreamers Awake at the White Cube, Bermondsey and Human Landscapes at the Hepworth Wakefield. This month, Hauser & Wirth announced their representation of the Estate of Alina Szapocznikow and will show her work at Art Basel Switzerland this summer and in New York next spring.
All Images © ADAGP, Paris. Courtesy The Estate of Alina Szapocznikow / Piotr Stanislawski / Glaerie Loevenbruck, Paris / Hauser & Wirth.