Born to a family of Polish Jews in Kalisz, Poland, in 1926, Alina Szapocznikow lived through the horrors of the Second World War. Deported with her family to Auschwitz, then to Bergen-Belsen, she survived the camps, an after the war moved to Paris where she studied sculpture. She lived there from 1963 until her death in 1973, at 47. Her early works adopt a classical figurative style, but she later radically rethought her sculpture, which she perceived as a concrete extension of memory and body. Alina Szapocznikow’s work is entirely centred on the human body, principally on her own, through which she examines her limits and fragility. In 1969, she found a lump in her breast, which led to her death four years later. Szapocznikow’s work, produced during one of the richest and most complex periods of the twentieth century, remained completely unknown until she was rediscovered in 2012 and presented at the exhibition “Sculpture Undone: 1955-1972” at MoMA in New York.
Her work has also been presented in exhibitions at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in Tel Aviv (2014), at the Cabinet d'art graphique, MNAM / Centre Pompidou, in Paris (2013), at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles (2012) and at WIELS Centre d'Art Contemporain in Brussels (2012). At Punta della Dogana, her work was presented on the occasion of the exhibitions 'Dancing with Myself' (2018) and 'Slip of the Tongue' (2015-2016).