Magdalena Abakanowicz (born June 20, 1930) is a Polish sculptor and fiber artist born in Falenty, Poland. She is notable for her use of textiles as a sculptural medium. She was a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań, Poland from 1965 to 1990 and a visiting professor at University of California, Los Angeles in 1984. Abakanowicz currently lives and works in Warsaw. Abakanowicz attended the Gdańsk Academy of Fine Arts, then located in the town of Sopot. In 1950, Abakanowicz moved back to Warsaw to begin her studies at the Academy of Fine Arts, the leading art school in Poland. Her years at the university, 1950–1954, coincided with some of the harshest assaults made on art by the Soviet leadership. Realist artistic depictions based on the national 19th-century academic tradition was the only the form of artistic expression advocated by in Poland at the time. Abakanowicz found the climate at the Academy to be highly “rigid” and overly “conservative”. While studying at the University she was required to take several textile design classes, learning the art of weaving, screen printing, and fiber design.
Following her education at the Academy, Abakanowicz began to produce her first artistic works. Liberalization of the arts in Poland and injection of other art forms into the Polish art world greatly influenced Abakanowicz's early works as she searched for her own “artistic language and for a way to make her art more tactile, intuitive, and personal.” As a result, she soon adopted weaving as another avenue of artistic exploration. The 1960s saw some of the most important works produced during Abakanowicz's career. In 1967, she began to create gigantic three-dimensional fiber works called Abakans. These works would secure her place in the art world as one of the great artists of the time and influence all of her work she has produced since.