Alina Szapocznikow Documents. Works. Interpretations
Herbarium, a 1972 cycle of 14 imprints of the artist son’s, Piotr’s, body is Alina Szapocznikow’s last work.
My paper will aim at demonstrating the importance and showing the multiple interpretations of the cycle which has not yet been fully analyzed by researchers of Szapocznikow’s work. The problems I will address are: 1. the place of Herbarium in Szapocznikow’s oeuvre; 2. analysis of the theme (a body imprint); 3. historical references (Veraikon) and an attempt to account for the dialogue Szapocznikow engages in with contemporary artists (César, Rodin, Duchamp, Christo, Nicola L, Niki de Saint Phalle); 4. the biomorphism of the cycle: its historical roots, possible allusions to the tradition of pre-Slavonic herbaria and the custom of pouring shapes out of wax (on St. Andrew’s day); 5. the qualities of the technique chosen by the artist (with reference to her contemporaries) and an attempt at situating the Herbarium in the context of the Catholic tradition (ex-vota); 6. the discussion of the place the work has in the studies of Szapocznikow’s work.