In The Box, Pippy Houldsworth Gallery is delighted to present a significant work from the early 1970s by Polish artist Alina Szapocznikow (b.1926; d.1973). Griselda Pollock, acclaimed feminist art historian and Director of Research at the University of Leeds, will be writing a new text to accompany the project.
Regarded as one of the most significant post-war sculptors of the 20th century, Szapocznikow is renowned for producing tinted, polyester casts of the human body characterised by both sensuality and trauma. During the late 1960s and early 70s, the artist made a series of fetishistic ‘lamps' and utilitarian objects that piece together breasts and mouths cast from the artist's own body. In Sculpture - Lampe VIII (1970), Szapocznikow illuminates the underside of the lips with a light bulb, lending the work a seductive, yet eerie, glow. Sitting atop the lamp, a breast serves as a pink beret, adding to the risqué nature of the work. However, the fragmented nature of Szapocznikow’s sculptures arguably speaks to the distress which pervaded her life. Having been interned in several concentration camps during WWII, the artist was to face further adversity when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1969, subsequently dying at the age of 47.
Szapocznikow's work has been the subject of numerous major international exhibitions. In 2012, she had a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, which subsequently toured to the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; WIELS Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels; and the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus (2011-2013). Additional solo exhibitions include the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Tel Aviv Museum; Bonniers Konsthall; Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Kunsthalle Basel; Camden Arts Centre, London; and the National Museum of Warsaw. Her work features in the public collections of Tate, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Museum of Modern Art, New York and Philadelphia Museum Art. Szapocznikow currently has a solo exhibition at Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York.