Katarzyna Kobro, a Polish artist whose sculptures polarized critics in her home country during the mid-20th century, is the latest under-recognized artist to get a Google Doodle. Today, a portrait of Kobro appears on the front page of the search engine to mark her birthday.
Kobro is hardly a household name in the U.S., where she has never had a major retrospective. Part of the reason for this is that much of her work was lost or destroyed during World War II; another is that, as with other female artists, she has rarely been given the same weight as other male artists in the history of European abstraction. Her reputation is changing, however, and at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, there is currently a gallery dedicated to Kobro that features a work on loan from the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, Poland.
Commonly associated with the Constructivist movement in Poland, Kobro, along with her husband, Władysław Strzemiński, was a member of many avant-garde groups. Her biography remains filled with gaps, although it’s known that she came into contact with Kazimir Malevich, and she may also have met Aleksandr Rodchenko, too. Kobro and Strzemiński advocated for functionalism, believing that, in paring abstraction down to its most basic forms, movements like Cubism and Constructivism would help artists realize a utopian society.
“The era of building—created by the proper use of…