Collection 1880s–1940s


Katarzyna Kobro, Shaping Space

Fall 2021–Spring 2022


El Lissitzky. Proun 19D. 1921. Gesso, oil, collage of cut paper, cardboard, and silver paper on plywood, 38 3/8 x 38 1/4" (97.5 x 97.2 cm). Katherine S. Dreier Bequest. © 2021 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
  • MoMA, Floor 5, 507 The Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Galleries

Russian-born sculptor Katarzyna Kobro was a leader of the Polish avant-garde as well as an active participant in many international groups devoted to geometric abstraction in the 1920s and ’30s. Her Spatial Compositions are radically open structures made from intersecting planes of sheet metal.

They broke new ground by prioritizing “the relationship between the space contained within the sculpture and the space situated outside the sculpture,” as Kobro remarked. Many of Kobro’s works were lost or destroyed during World War II; Spatial Composition (5), on loan from the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, Poland, is one of few that remains. It is shown alongside works by Russian avant-garde artists Kobro knew and befriended during her lifetime. Also on view are works by artists who emerged internationally in the 1960s. Though most of them had no exposure to Kobro’s sculptures (which remained behind the Iron Curtain in Poland), their latter- day experiments with open, geometric forms point to the prescience of her stated emphasis on the “shaping of space.”

Organized by Starr Figura, Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints, with Lydia Mullin, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Painting and Sculpture.

16 works online


Installation images

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