Artist Profile: Albert Szukalski
Albert Szukalski was a Polish-Belgian born in Furth in Wald, in Bavaria, Germany, in 1945. He made many sculptures throughout his day, mixing these with media. Most of the sculptures I could find by him are made of plaster.
His most well-known sculpture is of “The Last Supper.” This sculpture, made of plaster, is set in Death Valley, by the ghost town of Rhyolite, Nevada. It has been said to be a startling, “unearthly and discordant sight” (desertusa.com). It is the form, or rather forms, of cloaked, ghost-like figures, appearing to be draped in towels or sheets. There are thirteen figures, each appearing nearly identical, yet slightly different, either standing or sitting on plaster chairs. Szukalski created this sculpture in 1984. He “intended for it to last for only a couple of years” (desertusa.com), yet it is still standing. It appears that Szukalski came to Rhyolite because he was fascinated with the ruins already present. One lady, who presumably knew Szukalski, said “that the idea had been in the making for a couple of years… it took him several months to complete this project” (rhyolitesite.com). A museum called the “Goldwell Open Air Museum” has been created at and around the sculpture of “The Last Supper” now. It was created in 2000, after the death of Szukalski, to help preserve his sculpture, as well as others that have been added.
Another interesting sculpture by Szukalski is called “Dialoog.” It was set in the “Middelheim Open Air Museum” in Antwerp, Belgium in 1974. I am pretty sure that it means “dialogue,” mostly because of the sound and slightly because of translations, but they are also somewhat sketchy. Plus, I like the original spelling and sound of the word.
It seems that while some have not heard of Szukalski, the ones who have have been touched by some form of connection. For example, “’12259 Szukalski’ (1989 SZ1) is a main-belt asteroid discovered on 26 September 1989 by E. W. Elst, at the European Southern Observatory. The object was named in honor of Albert Szukalski” (Wikipedia). This doesn’t happen without some extra character. Some artists are good, very good, yet lack a sense of humanity that tends to create a sort of gap between the artist and the public. Szukalski was obviously looked up to and well liked by the people he was around. It is not enough to have great talent. It is like Spiderman says, “With great power comes great responsibility.” It would behoove us to remember Szukalski and his example as a decent and well respected man, as much as an artist.