Gabo, Naum (1890–1977) By Lodder, Christina
Gabo was one of the first artists to create constructed sculptures, which he built up from flat (planar) elements in space. His initial works, developed in Norway (1915–1917), were figurative (see, for instance, Head No. 1 and 2), but in Russia (1917–1922) he adopted a more abstract idiom (for example, Column, 1920–1921) based on two intersecting vertical planes. The Realistic Manifesto (1920), written by Gabo, explained that his art was inspired by the ideas and forms of science and engineering and reflected the progressive political and social forces shaping the modern world. In 1920–1921 he produced the first kinetic sculpture—Kinetic Construction (Standing Wave)—which consisted of a metal rod that oscillated by means of a motor to produce a virtual volume in space. In the 1920s Gabo started using plastics. In Britain, he moved away from a rectilinear geometry to develop a style based on more organic forms (Spiral Theme, 1941). Reflecting his desire to express the continuity and curvilinear quality of space, he developed Spheric Theme (1937) and employed stringing (Linear Construction in Space No.1 and 2, 1941 and 1949–1953), initially using nylon monofilament, but later employing more durable metal springs woven around metal armatures (Linear Construction in Space No. 4).