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Alina Szapocznikow: A Body Of Work

Artist Alina Szapocznikow was featured in Art In America magazine‘s April 2012 issue. While her works are not the typical sort of smut some of you might expect here at Silent Porn Star (though to correct such impressions, please check here and here), her incredible sculptures are worthy of note.

The Polish sculptor would survive the Holocaust, tuberculosis, and breast cancer — only to succumb to her battle with tuberculosis at the age of 47.  Clearly Szapocznikow new pain. But not only pain in the sense of torture, inhumanity, and disease; even pain in the more average range of human experience, such as the dis-ease of exploitation and objectification, are exposed and supposed in her works. And all in a complete range of emotion, from outrage to irony — always with a sensuality that nearly stupefies it is so astonishing.

The artist herself was full of what many call an irony when they speak of this natural (not indoctrinated in a “movement”) feminist who is said to have “leveraged her sex appeal to become a superstar in the Polish art scene”. (As a woman, I nearly laugh until I cry when I read such things; any woman, any survivor, can tell you that to succeed you may climb that ladder that exists while waiting for or building a new one.)

As written on page two of Death Masks at MoMA by Frances Brent:

For example, when you look at her two large early figurative pieces, First Love, 1954 (encrusted plastic cement) and Difficult Age, 1956 (bronze)—unashamed, nubile, slender female bodies with gracefully simplified lines, proud and compact heads lifted above elongated necks—it’s useful to consider Łódź in all of its contradictions: its “cabbage, cabbage, cabbage,” pleurisy, pneumonia, typhus, colitis, beatings, shootings, raids, poisonings, suicides, its 7,000 to 10,000 survivors from the 204,800 who once lived there. In Łódź, Szapocznikow, surrounded by death and working in a ghetto hospital, wrote about adolescent feelings in a little yellow book. She had boyfriends there. Those early bigger-than-life-sized commemorations of self-confident young womanhood—with faces composed, breasts taut, unapologetic hand at the hip—allowed the artist to retrieve dignity from the degradation of her girlhood.

Below are scans of the article, Bodily Presence, by Kirsty Bell (you can click for larger images to read) followed by a list of links for additional reading.

Reading List:

Alina Szapocznikow Archive: It consists of photographs, artist’s correspondence, manusripts, unrealized projects, catalogues, invitation cards and magazine articles. The archive is the property of Piotr Stanisławski and it is deposited in the National Museum in Cracow.

Online article: Alina Szapocznikow: Sculpture Undone.

Online article: Source of All Joy: On Alina Szapocznikow.

Show notes: After Awkward Objects.

Online article: Dagmara Budzbon Alina Szapocznikow’s Herbarium – the Living Testament.

Also the book Lovely, Human, True, Heartfelt: The Letters of Szapocznikow and Stanisławski (review here).

If anyone wishes to fund my book buying at Amazon so that I can get a copy of this or other books on my list, you can send me an Amazon Gift Card via email. All you need is my email address which is Naughty.Words@gmail.com. Thanks!

Posted in Age, Art, Artists, Babes, Essays.

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