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"Abakanowicz at Thomas Masters"
--[Magdalena Korybska, from Chicago for
I could imagine how difficult it is to stand out of the crowd today. Many times I heard stories about some happy coincidences in artistic life, seldom about somebody’s brilliance. However, it would be the best situation when we could find one and another, and this happened to Magdalena Abakanowicz.

Very close from the place I live is located a small gallery owned by American collector. When I was passing it by recently its window caught my eye. I noticed a sculpture created by the familiar artists. At first I was startled, but rejected that feeling as soon as came to me that it should not surprise that Abakanowicz finds such a lot of applause in this country. You can find so many articles about her in the local press in Chicago that it is even not necessary to remind anybody her life story one more time. It is more important to tell news which is unknown in Poland. For example, with how a great success ended her installation in Grand Park, in Chicago titled Agora, or about honorable invitation for 40th anniversary of Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. In my opinion also the possibility to exhibit or to sell her works of art in the prestigious gallery is some kind of artistic privilege.

Abakanowicz is one of the top artists in the world. The pieces on view in the Thomas Masters Gallery are not related to the public art project, present instead part of her work which is unknown for the local public. For instance, the sculpture exhibited in the gallery’s window called Sage C, is a seating, headless figure recalling the artist’s existential statements, though the rest of the pieces present absolutely different site of her creativity. Hardly ever we have the opportunity to look up to some three-dimensional mammal heads, which, as the art critic from Chicago Tribune G. Artner pointed "prompt in the viewer unexpected emotions". First and foremost they are distinguished by the rudimentary shapes and sense of encountering fragments of antique sculptures that depict mythological creatures. Artner articulated farther that "Abakanowicz always was at her best when her work was the most abstract". Her bronze mammal heads, differently from figures in Agora, characterizes lack of emotions. She left the skulls of bovine, ovine and equine in their rigid shape. Unlike her other metal works, which normally have distinct patinas, she has left the concrete residue on the surface of these, as if to suggest they were ancient artifacts dug up from the earth. Alternatively, we can look at them as the sacrifices which were put on the pile in the ritual ecstasy. The artist always leaves us free and unlimited way to read her works. Similarly, the gouache paintings presented at the exhibition titled The faces which are not portraits, interest us not because of hunting for characteristics, but rather the sweep of the artist gestures and the apparent rapidity with which each head is suggested.

Abakanowicz exhibited 14 gouaches and 7 sculptures. The prices of drawings oscillated between $5,000.00 and $7,000.00. Gouaches named The faces which are not portraits were displayed for $17,000.00, mammals’ head for $80,000.00 and the seating figure Sage C for $140,000.00. Most of pieces were sold, however. After two months since the opening, only 4 paintings left, and the other found their new places in the private collections in Chicago.

Thomas Masters Gallery, 245 West North Avenue, Chicago

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