Alina Szapocznikow
(1926–1973)

Alina Szapocznikow, Cendrier de célibataire I (The bachelor's ashtray I), 1972, colored polyester resin and cigarette butts, private collection, Paris, installation view, EMST—National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, documenta 14, © Alina Szapocznikow/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017, photo: Yiannis Hadjiaslanis

Alina Szapocznikow, Tumeur (Tumor), 1970, colored polyester resin, gauze, and black-and-white photograph, private collection, Paris, installation view, EMST—National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, documenta 14, © Alina Szapocznikow/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017, photo: Yiannis Hadjiaslanis

Alina Szapocznikow, Sculpture (Fétiche IV) (Fetish IV), 1971, polyester resin, wood, and lingerie, private collection, Paris, installation view, EMST—National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, documenta 14, © Alina Szapocznikow/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017, photo: Yiannis Hadjiaslanis

Alina Szapocznikow, installation view, Neue Galerie, Kassel, documenta 14, © Alina Szapocznikow/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017, photo: Liz Eve

“As for me, I produce awkward objects. This absurd and convulsive mania proves the existence of an unknown, secret gland, necessary for life. Yes, this mania can be reduced to a single gesture, within the reach of us all. But this gesture is sufficient unto itself, it is the confirmation of our human presence. My gesture is addressed to the human body, ‘that complete erogenous zone,’ to its most vague and ephemeral sensations. I want to exalt the ephemeral in the folds of our body, in the traces of our passage.”
—Alina Szapocznikow


As a young girl during the Second World War, Alina Szapocznikow (1926–73) was detained in a number of concentration camps. After the war, she studied art in Prague and in Paris, and later moved to Poland to work as a sculptor, initially in the spirit of Socialist Realism that she later abandoned. In 1963 she relocated again to Paris. Five years later she was diagnosed with breast cancer—an experience that she integrated into her practice.

Posted in Public Exhibition
Excerpted from the documenta 14: Daybook