Catalogue entry

Naum Gabo 1890-1977

T02187 Model for a 'Monument to the Unknown Political Prisoner' 1952

Not inscribed
Plastic and wire mesh, 15 x 3 1/2 x 3 3/4 (38 x 9 x 9.5); height including slate and plastic base 16 1/8 (41)
Presented by the artist 1977
Exh: International Sculpture Competition: The Unknown Political Prisoner (American Preliminary Exhibition), Museum of Modern Art, New York, January-February 1953 (6, repr.); International Sculpture Competition: The Unknown Political Prisoner, Tate Gallery, March-April 1953 (30, repr.); Naum Gabo, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, March-April 1968 (13); Naum Gabo, Louisiana Museum, Humlebaek, November 1970-January 1971 (7, repr. in colour); Sonja Henies og Niels Onstads Stiftelser, Høvikodden, March-April 1971 (no catalogue); Nationalgalerie, Berlin, April-May 1971 (6, repr. in colour); Kunstverein, Hanover, June-July 1971 (6, repr. in black and white, and in colour); Musée de Peinture et de Sculpture, Grenoble, September-October 1971 (7); Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris, November-December 1971 (7); Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Galeria de Exposições Temporárias, Lisbon, January-February 1972 (6, repr.); Naum Gabo: The Constructive Process, Tate Gallery, November 1976-January 1977 (82)
Repr: Art News, LI, February 1953, p.21; Art Dtgest, XXVII, February 1953, p.9; Herbert Read and Leslie Martin, Gabo: Constructions, Sculpture, Paintings, Drawings, Engravings (London 1957), pls.91-3 (dated 1953)

For particulars of the International Sculpture Competition: The Unknown Political Prisoner see the note on the work by Consagra. The Gallery also owns the maquettes by Consagra [N06166], Gilioli [N06167], Minguzzi [N06165], Pevsner [N06162], Roszak [N06163] and by the British sculptor F.E. McWilliam [N06164] [see also T02332 and L01102 by Reg Butler, and entry for T03897 by Bernhard Heiliger].

This maquette by Gabo has usually been exhibited and reproduced with the date 1953, but as all the maquettes had to be delivered by the beginning of December the previous year it must have been made in 1952. The competition was announced to the press on 31 January 1952.

Gabo was awarded one of the four equal second prizes of £775 (with Mirko, Hepworth and his brother Pevsner) and the following note by him was published in the catalogue of the final exhibition at the Tate: 'The tyrant wants us to be in fear of him and the artist's task is not to perpetuate that fear but rather to encourage resistance. The conception of my image for the monument is glory to him who goes to the stake and vanquishes the fear of pain and torture for the sake of his belief.'

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.257-8, reproduced p.257