Magazine article Sculpture

New York

Magazine article Sculpture

New York

Article excerpt

Alina Szapocznikow

Andrea Rosen Gallery

Alina Szapocznikow was a supreme bricoleuse. She treated the odd assemblage of parts constituting the human body as her scrap box, junk heap, and obsession. During her brief life (1926-73), she used all aspects and conditions of the body as a resource, and she experienced most of them herself. A concentration camp survivor, a mother, a cancer victim, she mined spectacles of fatality and mortality for her subject matter. If this sounds grim, it isn't-her work deals with abjection and suffering in a fondly ironic way-and even depictions of suffering and grief are witty and mordantly funny.

Szapocznikow conceived of the body as a variable semantic assemblage, referring to it as "that complete erogenous zone." The work blends beauty with nightmare, a strange combination expressed in objects that seem to insist on wholeness and joy even as the body falls apart. Her sculptures are sensual, seductive, and perverse, a vehicle for memory and a celebration of the ephemeral.

She used both traditional and nontraditional materials-scraps of clothing, photographs, gum, butter, cigarettes, resin, and polyurethane foam, often in conjunction with bronze, plaster, and stone-and frequently made body casts, often using her own body. In a 1972 artist statement, she wrote, "Through casts of the body, I try to fix the fleeting moments of life, its paradoxes and absurdity." The casts fuse body parts such as faces, lips, eyes, breasts, and limbs into a variety of juxtapositions. …

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