Magdalena Abakanowicz born in Falenty near Warsaw, Poland.
The family moves to the mother's country estate east of Warsaw. Still a child,
Abakanowicz begins to create sculptures from clay, stones, twigs and pieces of
broken porcelain
1939 A long period of suffering under the circumstances of occupation begins for the
family following the German assault on Poland
After the invasion of Poland by the Red Army, the family flees to
Warsaw and to the Gdansk region where she, who has thus far only had private
tuition, attends a public school for the first time in her life
Abakanowicz attends the art colleges of Gdynia, Gdansk and Warsaw.
1954 Graduation from the Academy
Abakanowicz works as a designer for the silk industry and creates large
gouaches on paper and canvas
1956 Marriage to Jan Kosmowski. She quits her silk industry job and starts to
concentrate on painting
1957 First trip to the West to Italy
1961 Together with her husband she lives in a one-room apartment in Warsaw. In
response to the cramped conditions in which they are forced to live, the artist
decides to work with textile materials and creates her first weaving works
1962 At the first Biennale lnternationale de la Tapisserie in Lausanne, Switzerland, she
presents a two-dimensional tapestry which causes a sensation. Beginning of a
four-month stay in France
1965 Winner of the Gold Medal at the Biennale São Paulo, Brazil
From now on, Abakanowicz is met with great acclaim in the international art
She is awarded a chair at the Art Academy in Poznan, Poland
1967 Creation of large Abakans, sculptures of thick, organic material, which she herself
weaves. They are giant abstract forms, which, hanging from ceilings, transcend
the borders between painting and sculpture, between the object and its environs
1969 Together with her friend, the Polish film director Jaroslaw Brzozowski, she
works on a film about her oeuvre, titled Abakany. First visit to the USA and
Abakanowicz takes part in group exhibitions at the Stedelijk Museum in
Amsterdam, Netherlands, and at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, NY,
1972 In her exhibition at the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen (The
Rhineland and Westphalia Art Association) in Düsseldorf, Germany, she shows
her first human figures
Creation of a cycle entitled Heads, made of burlap
Honorary Doctorate from the Royal College of Art, London, UK Her encounter
with Artur Starewicz, the Polish Ambassador to the United Kingdom, marks the
beginning of a lifelong friendship
Abakanowicz begins to work with new materials. Creation of a clay cast entitled
Seated Man
Retrospective exhibitions are staged at the New South Wales Art Gallery in
Sydney and at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia. From
Australia the artist sets out on trips to New Guinea, Indonesia, Thailand and
Work on the cycle Embryology begins
Abakanowicz represents Poland with a solo exhibition in the Polish pavilion at
the Venice Biennale, Italy
Creation of the large exterior installations Four Standing Figures and Four Wheels for
the Sculpture Biennale Middelheim, Belgium. First aluminium-cast sculpture.
With a Super 8 camera, Abakanowicz shoots the short film The Hand
Creation of her first bronze figure
Creation of an installation entitled Katharsis (Catharsis), 33 larger than life-sized
acephalous bronze figures for the The Gori Collection in Santomaso di Pistoia,
Italy. Abakanowicz begins to work on the cycles Anonymous Portraits, 30 selfportraits on linen, and Incarnations, 110 bronze self-portraits. In addition, she
creates dozens of animal heads, the Hoofed Mammal Heads
Creation of a group of 15 burlap sculptures entitled Female Figures, seven of which
are displayed at the Sydney Biennale, Australia. She begins to work on Crowd I, a
group of 50 standing figures with arms and hands
For the Sculpture Garden of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem she creates Negev,
seven monumental disks made of limestone, which recall cult objects
Work on the cycle War Games begins, enormous tree trunks coated with steel or
Together with her husband, Abakanowicz moves into a house of their own in
Warsaw. Creation of Space of Dragon, ten giant metaphorical animal heads for the
Olympic Park in Seoul, South Korea
Completion of Sarcophagi in Glass Houses for a retrospective exhibition at
Städelsches Kunstinstitut (Städel Art Institute) in Frankfurt/ Main, Germany
Creation of the nine bronze forms entitled Space of Nine Figures for the WilhelmLehmbruck Museum in Duisburg, Germany
Following an invitation by the city of Paris, the artist designs Arboreal Architecture,
organic houses modelled after trees. The project wins the tender put out by the
city of Paris for the extension of the Great Paris Axis from the Louvre to the
Seine via La Defense
In Japan, Abakanowicz installs the Becalmed Beings at the Hiroshima City Museum
and One of the Crowd at the Hakone Open Air Museum
She is awarded the Prize for Distinction in Sculpture by The Sculpture Center in
New York. Work begins on the large vertical tree sculptures Hand-like Trees,
reaching into the air-like hands
1994 The artist composes and choreographs dances which reflect her sculptures and
are performed in Tokyo, Hiroshima and Warsaw by Japanese and Polish dancers
Abakanowicz becomes a member of the Berlin Academy of Fine Arts
Creation of Hurma, a group of 150 child figures, along with Backward
Standing, consisting of 60 adult figures, for the collection of the Museo Nacional
Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Queen Sofía Museum) in Madrid, Spain
Creation of Birds, made of aluminium. The artist creates 90 Bambini
made of concrete and wood. The group Space of Unknown Growth is incorporated
into the collection of the Europos Parkas, Open Air Museum of Central Europe
in Vilnius, Lithuania
The first group of Walking Figures, made of burlap, then of bronze, is created
1999 Bambini are put on display in the gardens of the Palais Royal in Paris, along with
Cor-Ten Armours, giant heads made of Cor-Ten steel. The artist is elected member
of the Order of Merit
2000 Creation of large four-legged beings, the Mutants, made of welded steel
The thus far numerically largest installation with 112 figures is erected in
the Cytadela Park in Poznan, Poland
2002 Space of Stone, 22 granite rocks, is erected at the Ground of Sculpture in Hamilton,
NJ, USA. The cycle Coexistence, large striding figures with animal-like heads, is
created from burlap and synthetic resin
Abakanowicz creates the stainless steel Embryologies
The group of 20 Big Figures is permanently installed in front of the
Princeton University Art Museum, NJ, USA
2004 Abakanowicz is elected Tree Artist of the Year by the Schleswig-Holsteinische
Landesmuseen. Creation of a commissioned work, Figura Ultima, which belongs
to the series Hand-like Trees. The artist creates a group of 10 iron striding figures
for the Herbert Gerisch Foundation in Neumünster, Germany
2005 Creation of the Flyers series, large bird-like sculptures with two or four wings,
made of welded steel. In honour of her oeuvre the artist receives the Lifetime
Achievement Award from the International Sculpture Center, New York
Installation of the permanent Agora group with 106 larger than life-sized
sculptures for the Grant Park, Chicago, IL, USA
Abakanowicz creates King Arthur's Court, sculptures made of welded steel,
which bear the names of the Knights of the Round Table
2008 First exhibition of King Arthur's Court in the Palacio de Cristal in the Parque del
Buen Retiro of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid
2010 Installation of Crossroad, a group of four allegorical figures, made of stainless
steel, in Warsaw
Magdalena Abakanowicz lives and works in Warsaw. Apart from sculpture, she paints
and draws bodies, faces, flowers and insects. She writes metaphorical texts concerning
her observations of nature and life.