The two giant, pyramidal bronze forms that Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz calls Sagacious Heads rise out of the ground like a pair of mysterious beasts or ancient, scarred mountains. For Abakanowicz, known for her haunting groupings of abstracted figures, the head has a special significance: it is “first to see, to react, to inform the whole body,” but more importantly, it is “first exposed to the unknown.” These featureless heads—silent and mute—have been severed from their bodies and thus from all their responsibilities. Their immutable, enigmatic presence seems to call forth the unknown itself. Abakanowicz fashioned the heads out of Styrofoam, plaster, and fabric, working the soft surfaces of the plaster with her fingers and scoring the Styrofoam with a knife to create the roughened, hidelike textures of the final forms, cast in bronze. The two heads in the Garden are the last in a series of seven the artist executed between 1987 and 1990. Abakanowicz also created a group of ten monolithic bronze “dragon heads” for the Olympic Park at the 1988 games in Seoul, South Korea.
© 1998 Walker Art Center