Lot 47
  • 47

MAGDALENA ABAKANOWICZ | Relief avec deux collines (Relief with Two Hills)

50,000 - 70,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Magdalena Abakanowicz
  • Relief avec deux collines (Relief with Two Hills) 
  • signed, titled and dated 1972 on a label stitched to the reverse 
  • sisal
  • 110 by 190 cm. 43 1/4 by 74 7/8 in.


Estate of the Artist 
Private Collection, Poland
Private Collection, Europe
Acquired from the above by the present owner 

Catalogue Note

Intricate and vibrant, Relief avec deux collines (1972) belongs to the celebrated body of textile works by Magdalena Abakanowicz, one of the most critically acclaimed female artists of the Eastern Bloc. Although initially trained in painting, Abakanowicz chose to work in textile, both in order to challenge the perception of weaving as women’s craft, and to avoid Soviet censorship, which dictated a government-approved style of socialist realism to painters, sculptors, and architects. Today, Abakanowicz’s works are housed in numerous international collections such as The Museum of Modern Art and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, as well as the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Currently, the artist’s work can be viewed at MoMA in the Taking a Thread for a Walk exhibition which runs until April this year; and a major retrospective of Abakanowicz’s textile sculptures will open in June at Tate Modern. Relief avec deux collines was executed at a critical, early moment in Abakanowicz’s career. In 1965 the artist received her first international award, which opened the doors to further projects and exhibitions outside of the Soviet Union. Throughout the 1960s and '70s Abakanowicz worked intensely on her renowned series of large hanging fabric sculptures, which she called (after herself) the Abakans. Like the sculptural Abakans, the present work challenges the traditional decorative context of tapestry through its coarse sisal threads. The densely woven red, orange, brown and black fibres reflect the light and react to the motions of air, together transforming the work’s surface into a pulsating sculptural installation. Both the title of the tapestry and the pattern created with natural threads allude to organic cycles of metamorphosis. In turn, the spatial quality of the work suggests the artist’s exploration of the concept of three-dimensionality in art, central also to the oeuvres of Abakanowicz’s contemporaries, Lucio Fontana and Alberto Burri.