Alina Szapocznikow (1926-1973)


Alina Szapocznikow was born in Kalisz, Poland, in 1926 to a Jewish medical family. Having survived the Holocaust, including Auschwitz and the camps in Bergen-Belsen and Teresienstadt, Szapocznikow started training as a sculptor in Otokar Velimski's studio in Prague. In 1963 she moved to Paris, where she was one of the first artists to experiment with polyester and polyurethane, which she used to cast parts of her face and body to montage them into provocative objects that evoke Surrealism, Nouveau Réalisme, and Pop art, intendeding to preserve the impermanence of the body as a source of pain, trauma and truth. Being diagnosed with breast cancer in 1968, Szapocznikow started making her 'tumour' sculptures using resin, gauze, crumpled newspapers and photographs. Alina Szapocznikow died in 1973.


Tumour, 1969 

Polyester and black and white photograph
13 x 22 x 18 cm