Not on View

The Flock II

Photo Credit: Rich Sanders, Des Moines

The Flock II

Artist: Magdalena Abakanowicz (Polish, 1930 - 2017)
Date: 1990
Medium: burlap and resin
Overall: 56 x 13 1/2 x 12 in. (142.2 x 34.3 x 30.5 cm.)
Credit Line: Des Moines Art Center Permanent Collections; Purchased with funds from the Edmundson Art Foundation, Inc., 1992.36.a-.ii
Accession number: 1992.36.a-.ii
Classification: sculpture
Label TextLike much of Abakanowicz’s work, this solemn group represents the power of a crowd or mass of people, as well as the individualism of each member of the group. Although the artist’s personal history involves firsthand experience with the Nazi invasion of Poland, her work is not restricted to a certain social or political situation. The faceless, genderless, and ageless state of the figures suggests the human form without being specific. Despite this generality, and the fact that all of the figures are cast from the same boy, the nature of the burlap and resin gives each one its own unique variations. Abakanowicz compares this aspect of her art to nature, where herds of animals or leaves on trees present a similar example of an overwhelming number of objects being the same and yet different. Abakanowicz spent her childhood on her aristocratic family’s estate outside Warsaw. During the Nazi invasion, soldiers invaded her home, and Abakanowicz witnessed her mother losing an arm to gunfire. The family was forced to flee, as well as lie about their family history to avoid persecution in Communist post-war Poland. Regardless of these restrictive conditions, Abakanowicz became a rebellious and individualistic artist. She rejected traditional sculptural media such as wood and bronze, and instead turned to working in fiber. She also denies the influence of other artists or movements in her work, seeking a more personal form of expression. Abakanowicz’s figural groups are often viewed as voiceless, oppressed masses, not specific to any war or social situation. These figures are visibly hollow, suggesting that despite their strong physical presence, they may be shells of people who have somehow been lost. Their genderless and ageless state allows them to invoke humanity on an affecting and elemental level.
Exhibition History"Abakanowicz and The Mindless Crowd," University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor,

"From Body to Being: Reflections on the Human Image," Des Moines Art Center, Feb. 1 - May 4, 1997
Published ReferencesDMAC News, Mar./Apr. 1993, p.3

AN UNCOMMON VISION: THE DES MOINES ART CENTER, Des Moines Art Center, 1998, ref. & b/w ill. p.42, color detail pp.42 & 43

DMAC News, Sept./Oct. 1995, p.8
entirely unexpected