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The late 1950s and the early 1960s was the heyday of the Polish modern sculpture which, after the ignoble period of the socialist realism rule, renewed its relations with current tendencies present in international art. It was a period of creative activity of many distinguished sculptresses.

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The late 1950s and the early 1960s was the heyday of the Polish modern sculpture which, after the ignoble period of the socialist realism rule, renewed its relations with current tendencies present in international art. It was a period of creative activity of many distinguished sculptresses. Alina Ślesińska who, next to Barbara Zbrożyna and Alina Szapocznikow, enjoyed great recognition at that time, but is considered as a slightly forgotten artist these days. At the end of the 1950s, Ślesińska had her exhibitions at the Warsaw Kordegarda in 1957, in Paris in 1958 and in London in 1959. In the catalogue of her individual exhibition, Propositions pour l’architecture, that took place in 1962 at the Parisian La Roue Gallery, critic Pierre Restany called the sculptress’s works a “visionary morphology of the present.”
Eustachy Kossakowski included Circus in one of the photo-montages illustrating the idea of integration of architecture and sculpture endorsed by Ślesińska. The original gypsum model of the sculpture is on permanent display at the Gallery of 20th Century Polish Art at the National Museum in Kraków. Sweeping forms twined all over the centrally placed vertical supports contrast with the regular rhythm of parallel tiny rungs filling several slanting-line planes that seem to whirl around the central axis of the composition. The openwork sculpture that suggestively renders the whirling motion is, in fact, an unexecuted architectural design. Typical of the aesthetics of the 1960s, what is present here is the inclination to use slanting lines and organic shapes, as well as blurring the boundaries between architecture and sculpture adopted by the world’s top architects at the time.
It is worth mentioning that in 1963, when the work on display was created, Ślesińska worked together with Oscar Niemeyer, designer of the city of Brasília. The echoes of Niemeyer’s designs are clearly visible in the dynamic structure of the Circus sculpture.

Elaborated by Agata Małodobry (The National Museum in Krakow), © all rights reserved

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Sculpture “Circus” by Alina Ślesińska

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