Constructivism Naum Gabo

Naum Gabo, born Naum Neemia Pevsner (5 August 1890 – 23 August 1977) was a prominent Russian sculptor in the Constructivism movement and a pioneer of Kinetic Art
Gabo grew up in a Jewish family of six children in the provincial Russian town of Bryansk, where his father owned a factory. His older brother was fellow Constructivist artist Antoine Pevsner; Gabo changed his name to avoid confusion with him. Gabo was a fluent speaker and writer in German, French, and English in addition to his native Russian. His command of several languages contributed greatly to his mobility during his career. “As in thought, so in feeling, a vague communication is no communication at all," Gabo once remarked.
After school in Kursk, Gabo entered Munich University in 1910, first studying medicine, then the natural sciences, and attended art history lectures by Heinrich Wölfflin. In 1912 Gabo transferred to an engineering school in Munich where he discovered abstract art and met Wassily Kandinsky and in 1913-14 joined his brother Antoine (who by then was an established painter) in Paris. Gabo's engineering training was key to the development of his sculptural work that often used machined elements. During this time he won acclamations by many critics and awards like the $1000 Mr and Mrs Frank G. Logan Art Institute Prize at the annual Chicago and Vicinity exhibition of 1954.

 After the outbreak of war, Gabo moved first to Copenhagen then Oslo with his older brother Alexei, making his first constructions under the name Naum Gabo in 1915. These earliest constructions originally in cardboard or wood were figurative such as the Head No.2 in the Tate collection. He moved back to Russia in 1917, to become involved in politics and art, spending five years in Moscow with his brother Antoine.
Gabo contributed to the Agit-prop open air exhibitions and taught at 'VKhUTEMAS' the Higher Art and Technical Workshop, with Tatlin, Kandinsky and Rodchenko. During this period the reliefs and construction became more geometric and Gabo began to experiment with kinetic sculpture though the majority of the work was lost or destroyed. Gabo's designs had become increasingly monumental but there was little opportunity to apply them; as he commented, "It was the height of civil war, hunger and disorder in Russia. To find any part of machinery … was next to impossible". Gabo wrote and issued jointly with Antoine Pevsner in August 1920 a "Realistic Manifesto" proclaiming the tenets of pure Constructivism – the first time that the term was used. In the manifesto Gabo criticized Cubism and Futurism as not becoming fully abstract arts and stated that the spiritual experience was the root of artistic production. Gabo and Pevsner promoted the manifesto by staging an exhibition on a bandstand on Tverskoy Boulevard in Moscow and posted the manifesto on hoardings around the city.

 Gabo visited London in 1935, and settled in 1936, where he found a "spirit of optimism and sympathy for his position as an abstract artist". At the outbreak of World War II he followed his friends Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson to St Ives in Cornwall, where he stayed initially with the art critic Adrian Stokes and his wife Margaret Mellis. While in Cornwall he continued to work, albeit on a smaller scale. His influence was important to the development of modernism within St Ives, and it can be seen most conspicuously in the paintings and constructions of John Wells and Peter Lanyon, both of whom developed a softer more pastoral form of Constructivism.
In 1946 Gabo and his wife and daughter emigrated to the United States, where they resided first in Woodbury, and later in Middlebury, Connecticut. Gabo died in Waterbury, Connecticut, in 1977.

 The essence of Gabo's art was the exploration of space, which he believed could be done without having to depict mass. His earliest constructions such as Head No.2 were formal experiments in depicting the volume of a figure without carrying its mass. Gabo's other concern as described in the Realistic Manifesto was that art needed to exist actively in four dimensions including time.
Gabo’s vision is imaginative and passionate. Over the years his exhibitions have generated immense enthusiasm because of the emotional power present in his sculpture. Gabo described himself as "making images to communicate my feelings of the world." In his work, Gabo used time and space as construction elements and in them solid matter unfolds and becomes beautifully surreal and otherworldly. His sculptures initiate a connection between what is tangible and intangible, between what is simplistic in its reality and the unlimited possibilities of intuitive imagination. Imaginative as Gabo was, his practicality lent itself to the conception and production of his works. He devised systems of construction which were not only used for his elegantly elaborate sculptures but were viable for architecture as well. He was also innovative in his works, using a wide variety of materials including the earliest plastics, fishing line, bronze, sheets of Perspex, and boulders. He sometimes even used motors to move the sculpture.Wikipedia

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