Naum Gabo

Eyridiki Sellou | Jul 4, 2024

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Naum Gabo (born Naum Abramovich (Nyehamija Berkovics) Pevzner) (Russian: Наум Абрамович (Нехамия Беркович) Певзнер) (Bryansk, August 5, 1890 - Waterbury, Connecticut, August 23, 1977) was a Russian-American sculptor, painter, architect and designer. Pioneer of kinetic art.

Born into a Russian Jewish family of six children, his father worked in a factory. He was educated in Kursk. From 1909 he studied in Munich, where he studied medicine, pharmacy, philosophy, mechanical engineering, architecture and art history. In art history he attended lectures by Heinrich Wölfflin. He was not originally intended to pursue a career in art, but was attracted by the reputation of the Munich Academy of Fine Arts.

In 1910 he was greatly influenced by the Cubist exhibition and his meeting with Kandinsky. He studied Kandinsky's volume on the theory of art, On the Spirit in Art. Gabo's brother, Antoine Pevsner (1884-1962), had been preparing for a career in art from the age of 15, working as a Constructivist and then abstract painter and sculptor from the 1920s. To avoid any confusion between the two, his brother Naum Pevsner changed his name to Naum Gabo as early as 1915, and he has been known in the art world as Naum Gabo ever since.

Naum Gabo was in constant contact with his brother, a painter living in Paris, and visited him in 1913 and 1914, where he became acquainted with Archipenko, the Section d'Or, and the artistic vision of painters Albert Gleizes (1881-1953) and Jean Metzinger (1883-1956). On his return to Munich, Gabo sculpted his first sculpture, a naturalistic negro head.

When the First World War broke out, he fled to Denmark and then to Oslo. In Oslo he was joined by his artist brother Antoine Pevsner. They worked together for two years, summing up their experiences and together they developed the art they called Constructivism. Naum Gabo's strength was his scientific approach to materials and form. Naum Gabo had learned at the University of Munich to use three-dimensional constructions to illustrate mathematical formulae. Antoine Pevsner brought his artistic flair to the collaboration. Thus, artistic creativity was combined with scientific methodology.

After the Russian Revolution of October 1917, Jews were no longer persecuted in Russia, and they were able to return to Moscow with their mature artistic ideas. Gabo returned to Oslo with his Breast Portrait and Female Head. Back home, it was not easy to get their ideas about the art of the future accepted. They found themselves at odds with Malevich's suprematism and the functionalist, productionist aspects of Tatlin and his group. These trends were not far apart, only in terms of their prognosis of the end result, they were anti-artistic. It was only natural that the artists' debate between themselves was on the agenda in Moscow, as Naum Gabo has written about it very graphically:

Gabo and his brother most appreciated Malevich's abstract stance and practice, but they were still striving for a more dynamic and space-consuming artistic approach. Suprematism, limited to basic forms and unmixed pure colours, was too narrow for them. They rejected Tatlin's productivist productionist approach, which would have banished art forever. On 5 August 1920, Gabo and Pevsner published a manifesto in which they argued that art was necessary for all social formations:

Between 1917 and 1922, politics was so busy in Russia that it had no influence on the artists' debates and creative activity, but from 1922 onwards it used them for political propaganda purposes with posters, scenery, etc. In this climate, artistic ambitions could no longer be truly asserted, and many Russian artists emigrated to Western Europe. Gabo went to Berlin in 1922 to inspect a Russian art exhibition, stayed in Berlin and never returned. A year later, in 1923, his brother followed him, and Kandinsky left Russia the same year, joining Gropius in Weimar. The fate of Malevich, who remained at home, was poverty and oblivion, with Tatlin and some of his group working in industrial design.

Gabo lived and worked for ten years in Berlin (1922-1932) and three years in Paris (1932-1935). In Paris in 1932, he and his brother founded the Abstraction-Création group, which gained a large following. This group was strictly abstracted from the representation of any object and became a forum for abstract art. It brought together only painters and sculptors, no longer following the Bauhaus and De Stijl ideal of a synthesis of the visual arts. Gabo settled in London in 1935, where he remained for ten years. In 1946, he emigrated to the United States of America and became an American citizen. He lived and worked here for the remaining two decades of his life. With his Constructivist sculptural experiments, he pioneered the representation of air, space, time and movement, a technique that has gone down in the history of art as kinetic art, and has had many talented followers and further developers.

Gabo and his brother Pevsner considered themselves mainly sculptors, and they were praised as sculptors by critics and the art-loving public, but they were in fact striving for an art form that was outside any previous art category, not stuck in the framework of traditional industrial society, but growing into modern industrial society with their constructivist and kinetic works. Gabo's brother Gabo is more revealing on this:

A Divers Arts


  1. Naum Gabo
  2. Naum Gabo
  3. ^ a b Hammer, Martin and Naum Gabo, Christina Lodder. Constructing Modernity: The Art & Career of Naum Gabo, Yale University Press, 2000.
  4., 2019. december 14.
  5. naum-gabo
  6. Das Realistische Manifest von Naum Gabo. Abgerufen am 8. Januar 2023.
  7. Siehe Weblink archINFORM
  8. Datenbank zum Beschlagnahmeinventar der Aktion "Entartete Kunst", Forschungsstelle "Entartete Kunst", FU Berlin
  9. Opknapbeurt 'Het ding'

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