Head ashtrays and pin-up body parts – Alina Szapocznikow: Human Landscapes review

By Skye Sherwin

Hepworth Wakefield
This revelatory survey of a long-overlooked artist is full of wonders and horrors – from the pouting lip lamps to her cast of her son made just before her untimely death

Julie Christie's pink mouth blooms in a glowing orb atop an elegant curving stem. These Illuminated Lips, a 1966 series of lamp sculptures by the Polish artist Alina Szapocznikow, repeat in coloured polyester resin, varying from flesh tones to ice white against black. There are also lit-up nipples and rumpled amber-hued planes that resemble art nouveau glass light shades, petals and skin.

When Szapocznikow was making these forays into pliable industrial materials in her adopted city Paris, her work was frequently dismissed as simply sexy and narcissistic. She was more likely to use her own physique, though her collaboration with the movie star hints at her place in a switched-on circle that took in the artist Annette Messager and the cult film-maker Alejandro Jodorowsky.

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