Naum Gabo

Model for a Construction at the Bijenkorf Building, Rotterdam


Naum Gabo 1890–1977
Object: 251 x 44 x 44 mm
Presented by the artist 1977

Not on display

Catalogue entry

Naum Gabo 1890-1977

T02188 Model for a Construction outside the Bijenkorf Building, Rotterdam 1955

Not inscribed
Plastic, 9 7/8 x 1 3/4 x 1 3/4 (25.1 x 4.4 x 4.4)
Presented by the artist 1977
Exh: Naum Gabo: The Constructive Process, Tate Gallery, November 1976-January 1977 (84, repr.)
Lit: Naum Gabo, Nino Franchina and Ugo Sissa, 'Due Monumenti a Rotterdam e a Taranto' in Civiltà delle Macchine, IV, May-June 1956, pp.24, 101-2

After the first project for a sculpture against the façade of the Bijenkorf building had been abandoned (see the note on T02189), Marcel Breuer sounded Gabo in the middle of November 1954 about the possibility of making a free-standing work. A few days later, on 26 November 1954, Breuer sent a telegram to the Bijenkorf authorities to tell them that he had obtained building permission from the senior officials of the municipality to erect a free-standing sculpture. Gabo finished his model for this at the beginning of May 1955 and his design was discussed with the Rotterdam authorities on 23 May. At that meeting, or shortly afterwards, it was decided to have a large-scale model made which arrived in October 1955 and still belongs to the Bijenkorf company.

Photographs taken on 23 May 1955 (including one of Gabo himself pointing out certain features of his model to the chief town planner C. van Traa) confirm that the model being discussed at that time was T02188, though it was then set in a collar-shaped lower section which was afterwards eliminated. Gabo decided to discard this feature while working on the design and construction of the larger model, because he felt that it would cover up the greater part of the sculpture inside the tower and detract from the basic idea of the construction of the tower. The definitive design was approved at a meeting with the municipal authorities on 16 December 1955, and the finished sculpture was officially unveiled on 21 May 1957.

The final sculpture stands 25 1/2 metres high, and is made of steel ribs, stainless steel, bronze wires, pre-stressed concrete and marble. It differs from T02188 in having a further sculptural element inside the lower half of the tower.

(This note is based on information kindly provided by G.C. Leene, the architect of the Bijenkorf company).

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.259-60, reproduced p.259