Representations of Pain in the Artwork of Magdalena Abakanowicz

Wiltshire, Imogen (2020) Representations of Pain in the Artwork of Magdalena Abakanowicz. Kwartalnik Rzeźby Oronsko (4). ISSN 1230-6703

Representations of Pain in the Artwork of Magdalena Abakanowicz
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This article examines the representations of pain in Abakanowicz’s artwork in a number of different ways. As scholars have shown, Abakanowicz’s portrayal of the fragmented and mutilated body was influenced by the figurative work of other post-war sculptors in Poland, including Alina Szapocznikow, Magdalena Więcek and Jacek Waltoś. The truncated limbs, exposed viscera and scarred surfaces in Abakanowicz’s works such as Heads (1973-75), Seated Figures (1974-79) and Backs (1976-80) suggest trauma. As well as using the prevalent cultural motif of the disfigured body to imply suffering, the artist also explored, as this article shows, the biological mechanisms that allow the sensation of pain to be registered in the human body. In London during the 1970s, Abakanowicz met neuroscientist Patrick Wall who, along with Ronald Melzack, offered a new model for understanding pain with their influential Gate Control Theory (1965). This article examines how Abakanowicz’s work can be understood in terms of Wall’s ideas, especially the complex network of nerves that produce the feeling identified as pain in the brain. Finally, I will also explore the metaphorical dimension of pain in the weaponry of War Games (1987-1933).

Keywords:Sculpture, pain, Poland, the Body
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V350 History of Art
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Humanities and Heritage > Lincoln School of Humanities and Heritage (Humanities)
ID Code:53244
Deposited On:14 Feb 2023 08:47

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