Walking Figures – Edmonton

Magdalena Abakanowicz, Poland


TitleWalking Figures
Artist: Magdalena Abakanowicz (b. 1930, Poland)
Medium: 3 cast-iron figures
Dimensions: 284 x 91.5 x 133 cm (112 x 36 x 52 inches) each
Weight: 650 kg (1433 lbs) each
Previous Location: in front of the TELUS building on Alberta Avenue (118th Avenue and 89th Street) in Edmonton, Alberta

UPDATE: In 2021, the sculptures were de-installed and subsequently returned to a private collection in Poland.

Walking Figures is a group of headless, cast-iron figures by internationally renowned Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz. They appear to be walking aimlessly without sight, and the sombre tone makes reference to both time and loss. A larger group of figures, cast simultaneously in the artist’s studio, is titled Agora and is on permanent display in Grant Park in Chicago. An agora was a meeting place in ancient Greece where the concept of democracy began. There was no citizen above the law, and everyone had power to vote. It was an unbiased way of life.

The Vancouver Biennale commissioned Abakanowicz specifically for its 2005-2007 exhibition. Twenty figures were individually cast at an industrial foundry in Śrem, near Poznań, Poland under the artist’s direction. She took great care to differentiate each of the figures, individually applying and manipulating the figurative frame. These unique traces marked on each individual sculpture make no two figures alike, each wholly unique in their own right.

Metro Vancouver residents and visitors might well recognize these sculptures since there is a grouping of Walking Figures outside the City Hall Canada Line Station (Cambie Street at Broadway) in Vancouver.

In 2020, the Vancouver Biennale loaned three Walking Figures to the Arts on the Avenue Edmonton Society, a registered non-profit charitable organization in Edmonton, Alberta, which is engaged in developing 118th Avenue (75 through 106 streets) into a community arts district.

About Arts on the Ave

This creative coalition is dedicated to the community it so passionately serves through the cultivation of positive urban renewal. The Walking Figures and the other public-art installations that the Vancouver Biennale has loaned to Arts on the Ave are part of an effort to cultivate artistic fellowship through arts celebrations and signature art festivals, to create opportunities for all individuals to experience the joy of artistic expression, and to nurture creative environments. Through Arts on the Ave’s culture-led urban regeneration initiatives and impassioned vision of creative spaces and place-making, art-infused communities have begun to flourish and provide a safe, nurturing environment for artists to thrive.

Watch the Guided Tour Video of Walking Figures in Vancouver:


Listen to Jessica Wallin’s audio tour of the Walking Figures installation in Vancouver:


Press Coverage of Vancouver’s Walking Figures installation

The Canada Line Art Community

Vancouver Observer