Magdalena Abakanowicz, ‘Bambini’, 1998-1999, 83 children figures, concrete, glue, wood, 109 x 38 x 25 cm each. Courtesy of Artur Trawiński & Irmina Nazar Collection and European ArtEast Foundation.
Bambini at Castello di Brolio consists of eighty-three sculptures of child figures, originally created by the artist in 1998 and 1999 for the outdoor installation at Les Jardins du Palais Royal in Paris. The headless crowd of children’s bodies could be interpreted as a reflection on the war suffering the artist endured during the Second World War yet today could equally stimulate the recognition of a mass of refugees escaping the war in Syria or victims of gun crimes staging protest in America. Such is the universal power of Abakanowicz art that walking around Bambini can bring us to memories of forbidden individuality when one would inadvertently become part of an indistinct mass, as well as the times of communities forming when being part of the crowd meant bringing on change or at least staying safe together. Located on the terrace of Castello di Brolio, Bambini are juxtaposed with the surrounding nature resembling an animal herd or hollow tree trunks as if they were just imprints of children, shadows of the past. At the conclusion of experiencing the sculptural installation, it is one’s memory and individual history which will dictate the feelings, the moods, the imaginations experienced around the ambiguous creatures. Just as Abakanowicz would give Bambini multiple identities and universal meanings, each viewer will discover there is more than one self inhabiting their bodies.
Magdalena Abakanowicz (1930 – 2017) lived and worked in Poland. Abakanowicz prolific art practice involved sculpture, drawing, and writing occupying a unique position between the fields of art, philosophy, and nature, constituting a deep exploration of humanity and it’s relationship to natural, historical, and cosmic imaginaries. Her powerful sculptures and drawings address the human condition in both natural and political terms, while her monumental outdoor installations have been widely exhibited globally, often on permanent basis. She has had solo exhibitions in Wrocław, Poland (2017), Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (2009), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain (2008), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA (1999), The Institute for Contemporary Art P.S.1, New York, USA (1993), Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK (1995), Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, UK (1975), Stedelijk Museum, The Netherlands (1969). She has represented Poland at the 1980 Venice Biennial. Group exhibitions include “A Century of Sculpture – The Nasher Collection”, Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA (1997), “The Avant-Garde in the Eighties”, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, USA (1987), “Fiber Works Europe and Japan” National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Japan (1976), “Wall Hangings”, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA (1969), VII Biennale de Sao Paulo, Brasil (1965).