The first major UK retrospective of Polish artist Alina Szapocznikow (1926-1973) is on at the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield, until January 28, a chance to see the work of one of the most important artists of the 20th century, who was overlooked for many years.
The exhibition brings together over 100 works spanning Szapocznikow’s career. A survivor of the Lodz and Pabiance ghettoes, she was taken to Auschwitz and from there to Bergen-Belsen and Theresienstadt. Her fascination with the human form has its roots in those horrific experiences. Her works often represent the body in pieces, exemplified by works such as Exhumed (1955), which is cast in bronze and resembles an ossified figure retrieved from the ground.
A significant part of the exhibition focuses on works made between 1966 and 1972, a period in which Szapocznikow transformed casts of her lips and breasts into everyday objects like lamps, cushions, or ashtrays, work that is provocative and disturbing.