To Exalt the Ephemeral
February 7 - August 14, 2020
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In a brief but explosively inventive career, Alina Szapocznikow (1926 – 1973) radically re-conceptualised sculpture as a vehicle for exploring, liberating and declaring bodily experience. Join us for the opening reception of ‘To Exalt the Ephemeral: Alina Szapocznikow, 1962 – 1972,’ which reveals the full expressive potential of this pioneering Polish artist’s work through the material innovations she made during the last decade of her life. The exhibition is the first solo presentation of Szapocznikow’s work in the UK since her acclaimed exhibition at The Hepworth Wakefield in 2017. A version of this travelling exhibition was first shown at Hauser & Wirth in New York in late 2019. A new title from Hauser & Wirth Publishers features essays by Margot Norton and Pavel Pyś and gives further insights into the work of this remarkable artist.
On the occasion of the recent release of ‘To Exalt the Ephemeral: Alina Szapocznikow, 1962-1972’ from Hauser & Wirth Publishers – as well as ‘Great Women Artists’ (Phaidon) and ‘Women Artists’ (Thames & Hudson) – this panel discussion explores the dynamic process of bookmaking, considering the place of gender at this moment in art publishing. Bringing together two editors, a designer and an author, the conversation aims to assess the categorisation of artists, sensitivity in programming and considerations from initial idea to final object. Rebecca Morrill is Commissioning Editor (Art) at Phaidon Press, where she recently edited, and wrote the introductory essay for, ‘Great Women Artists’: a survey of over 400 women artists spanning 500 years. Prior to Phaidon she worked as Head of Collector Development North East at Contemporary Art Society; Producer, AV Festival 10 and 12; Exhibitions Curator at Serpentine Gallery and Exhibition Organiser at Whitechapel Gallery. Sonya Dyakova is an Art Director, Graphic Designer and Founder of Atelier Dyakova, a multi-disciplinary, award-winning visual communication agency based in London. She led the design of ‘To Exalt the Ephemeral’. Dr. Flavia Frigeri is an art historian and curator, currently Teaching Fellow in the History of Art Department at UCL. Previously she worked at Tate Modern, where she co-curated ‘The World Goes Pop’, among other exhibitions. She is the author of ‘Pop Art and Women Artists’, both published by Thames & Hudson. Stefan Zebrowski-Rubin is Managing Editor with Hauser & Wirth Publishers and has been working on the books with the gallery since 2014. He was Editorial Manager for ‘To Exalt the Ephemeral’.
We are delighted to welcome Katy Hessel, curator, writer and founder of @thegreatwomenartists – the Instagram account with nearly 90k followers that celebrates female art daily. Hessel will take us on a tour through the exhibition ‘To Exalt the Ephemeral: Alina Szapocznikow, 1962 – 1972’, providing insight to the life and work of this pioneering Polish artist through the material innovations she made during the last decade of her life. The event will provide an introduction to Szapocznikow’s extensive practice, and spotlight key works in the exhibition. In addition to presenting the weekly, The Great Women Artist Podcast, Hessel has written extensively on the subject of women artists and has regularly led talks and lectures on the subject for Tate, Courtauld, The National Gallery, Cambridge University, and more. She has presented numerous films for Tate, Royal Academy of Arts, Sotheby's, National Portrait Gallery; and been featured on BBC Radio 3 and 4. In February 2019, she curated an area of Tate Modern for February Tate Lates, and has curated exhibitions at Victoria Miro, TJ Boulting, Mother London, and residencies at Palazzo Monti, Brescia. All profits donated to the South London Gallery.
Born in Poland to a Jewish family in 1926, Alina Szapocznikow survived internment in concentration camps during the Holocaust as a teenager. Immediately after the war, she moved first to Prague and then to Paris, studying sculpture at the École des Beaux Arts. In 1951, suffering from tuberculosis, she was forced to return to Poland, where she expanded her practice. When the Polish government loosened controls over creative freedom following Stalin’s death in 1952, Szapocznikow moved into figurative abstraction and then a pioneering form of representation. By the 1960s, she was radically re-conceptualizing sculpture as an intimate record not only of her memory, but also of her own body.