Untitled (1957) Naum Gabo

BKOR archive
About the artwork

The history of the image of the American-born American sculptor Naum Gabo is inextricably linked to the construction of the Bijenkorf. The construction of this department store by architect Marcel Breuer in the fifties, replacing the old Bijenkorf which was badly damaged in the German bombing of 1940, led to a difference of opinion between the management of the Bijenkorf and the urban planners of the municipality. The municipality wanted the company to adhere to the prescribed building line. De Bijenkorf wanted more space for the facade on the Coolsingel. Finally, the Bijenkorf took the longest step by offering the municipality - to the satisfaction of all involved - the image of Naum Gabo. Gabo made a design that, in his own words, was inspired by the organic structure of the plant world. He took the image as a tree with a trunk, roots and branches. The design - an elegant tower consisting of four double ribs, which rotate 90 degrees over the image height and melt at the top - is made of steel and a coating of zinc and brass on a concrete base covered with black marble. On 21 May 1957 (Construction Day) the statue was unveiled by Mayor van Walsum. Gabo announced that the image expressed the spirit and energy of the Dutch. The image is seen as the culmination of constructivist sculptures. Gabo had made a model of the complex construction without calculations; TNO engineers in Delft had to get involved in testing the model of 26 meters high and 40 tons heavy for safety in a wind tunnel. The plastic itself - called by Gabo "an ideological contribution to constructivism" - was created in the Hollandia construction workshops and machine factory in Krimpen aan den IJssel. The image of Gabo now belongs to the city, but in the '50 years it was an act of courage from the management of the Bijenkorf - which had previously enriched the city with an image of Zadkine - to create an abstract sculpture of this size. give a prominent place in the new Rotterdam. The director of Urban Development, ir. C. van Traa, the most important designer of post-war Rotterdam, initially had trouble with this abstract plastic, but later he generously admitted that the sculpture by Gabo "achieved a major urban development". The sculpture by Gabo was thoroughly restored by MeestersIn in 2017 and delivered in 2018. For more information: Sculpture International Rotterdam.

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About the artist

Naum Gabo (Bryansk (Russia), 1890 - Waterbury (Connecticut), 1977) was a Russian-American constructivist sculptor. Space played an important role in his work. He tried to add volume to his images by working with different layers. In addition to sculptures, Gabo also made kinetic objects, such as mobiles. Gabo, whose original name was Pevsner, visited Paris in 1910 and got in touch with avant-garde artists, including Wassily Kandinsky. In 1915 (during the First World War) Gabo made his first constructivist work. During the years 1922 - 1932 he stayed in Berlin, where he taught at the Bauhaus in 1928. He then moved to England to eventually move to America in 1946. He became a citizen there and continued to live in 1977 until his death.
Gabo is one of the founders of modern sculpture. Instead of wood, stone and bronze, he used new, industrial materials such as Plexiglas and plastic. Mass and volume - the pillars of traditional sculpture - have given way to transparency and an apparent weightlessness in its abstract, spatial constructions. But what makes Gabo especially 'modern' is that he chose concepts from the exact sciences as a source of inspiration for his art.

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