May 1 - late fall 1999, weather permitting

The Metropolitan Museum of Art will open an outdoor installation of sculptures by Magdalena Abakanowicz, one of the most startlingly innovative artists of our time, on May 1, 1999. Abakanowicz on the Roof will feature a selection of figural works, including signature pieces as well as objects created during the past year that have never before been exhibited. They will be installed in the 10,000-square-foot open-air space of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden, located atop the Lila Acheson Wallace Wing. The Cantor Roof Garden offers a spectacular view of Central Park and the New York City.

The installation is made possible by the Lita Annenberg Hazen Charitable Trust. Among the works on view will be Backward Seated Figures, a group of life-size bronze sculptures created in 1992-93. The work consists of 20 seated, headless torsos that are placed side by side with their backs to the viewer.

About the Artist
Abakanowicz's story is both dramatic and tragic. Born in 1930 to aristocratic Polish parents, she was raised on a country estate east of Warsaw. Her early childhood was peaceful but lonely, as she was isolated from other children because of her social class. World War II and its aftermath, however, brought horrific experiences to the family, as on a night in 1943 when a drunken German invader shot young Magdalena's mother before her eyes (in consequence, her mother lost her hand). Living in Communist Poland for her adolescence and most of her adult life, Abakanowicz witnessed intensely destructive human behavior, and has created art that unflinchingly expresses the human condition.

Abakanowicz studied at Warsaw's Academy of Fine Arts between 1950 and 1954. While many Polish artists fled to the West after Stalin's death in 1953, she remained, identifying the fate of her art with that of her nation. By the 1960s, she began to earn an international reputation as a sculptor with a series called Abakans, monumental three-dimensional forms made out of materials woven with her unique technique. While her reputation grew, her search for new art continued. She soon began to use materials such as burlap and resin in unforeseen ways and created a group of figures that drew broad attention and evoked provocative cultural and political debate. She initiated a series of monumental sculptures in the 1980s using bronze, stone, wood, and iron, the best known of which are Katarsis, Incarnations, and Hand-Like Trees.

Abakanowicz currently lives and works in Warsaw. Her creative output is represented in more than 60 museums and public collections around the world.

Abakanowicz on the Roof is coordinated by Lowery Stokes Sims, Curator, and Anne L. Strauss, Research Associate, both in the Department of 20th Century Art.

Sandwiches and beverage service — including espresso, cappuccino, iced tea, soft drinks, wine, and beer — are available at the Cantor Roof Garden daily from 10:00 a.m. until closing.

January 11, 1999

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