by Ariadna Zierold
Alina Szapocznikow was born in 1926 in Kalisz, Poland. After surviving three concentration camps during WWII, she trained at studios in Prague and the École des Beaux-arts in Paris. She first began showing her work in 1950 and held her first two-person show at the Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, in 1957. Szapocznikow, along with two other artists, was selected to represent Poland at the Venice Biennale in 1962. A year later, she moved to Paris, where she continued to live until her untimely death in 1973 at the age of 47.
Szapocznikow radically reconceptualized sculpture as an imprint not only of memory but also of her own body. Though her career effectively spanned less than two decades, Alina left behind a legacy of provocative objects that evoke Surrealism, Nouveau Réalisme, and Pop art. Her tinted polyester casts of body parts, often transformed into everyday objects like lamps or ashtrays; her poured polyurethane forms; and her elaborately constructed sculptures, which at times incorporated photographs, clothing, or car parts, all remain as wonderfully idiosyncratic and culturally resonant today as when they were first made.