Now on display in New York’s Andrea Rosen Gallery are works by Alina Szapocznikow, brought on the heels of a major international traveling retrospective. For the exhibition the personal is profound, especially in the face of Szapocznikow’s radically deformed figurative sculptures, informed by a childhood steeped in horror within German concentration camps, created in an aesthetic that is strangely voluptuous and tender.
Alina Szapocznikow began working during the postwar period in a classical figurative style, she radically re-conceptualized sculpture as an imprint not only of memory but also of her own body. Though her career effectively spanned less than two decades (cut short by the artist’s premature death in 1973 at age 47), Szapocznikow left behind a legacy of provocative objects that evoke Surrealism, Nouveau Réalisme, and Pop art. Her tinted polyester casts of body parts, often transformed into everyday objects like lamps or ashtrays, and her elaborately constructed sculptures, which at times incorporated photographs, clothing, or car parts, all remain as wonderfully idiosyncratic and culturally resonant today as when they were first made.
The exhibition presents a meticulously assembled group of major figurative sculptures from the 1960s and 1970s. Ardently concentrating on life-size freestanding figures, these works represent some of the artist’s most significant bodies of work, lent from museums and private collections from around the world.
The curated collection of Szapocznikow’s work unveil a pioneering vision and formal language tensioned between lust and sexuality, and the threat of destruction. Embodying this dichotomy, her work contains an intense vividness of life, that can be drawn to her personal history surviving a youth in concentration camps, and an incredible rigor and vibrance driven from the force of life.