They are tall, headless and foreboding. They appear to be wandering aimlessly. Sinister perhaps.
Identically cast, they were later given individual surface treatments to create subtle identities.
The artist, Magdalena Abakanowicz, was born to a noble landowner family in Poland. When she was nine Nazi Germany invaded and occupied Poland. Her family endured the war living on the outskirts of Warsaw.
After the war and resulting Soviet occupation, the family moved to small city near Gdańsk, in northern Poland. Under Soviet control, the Polish government adopted Socialist realism as the only acceptable art form which could be pursued by artists. Originally conceived by Joseph Stalin in the 1930s, Socialist realism in nature, had to be 'national in form' and 'socialist in content'.
The artist's years at university, 1950 through 1954, coincided with some of the harshest assaults made on art by the Soviet leadership. Abakanowicz recalled: "I liked to draw, seeking the form by placing lines, one next to the other. The professor would come with an eraser in his hand and rub out every unnecessary line on my drawing, leaving a thin, dry contour. I hated him for it."
Abakanowicz's Walking Figures appear at the Broadway-City Hall Canada Line Station, and they all look rather Soviet-like to me.
Photos by Jim Murray. Copyright 2013.