Naum Gabo

Torsion

1928–36

Artist
Naum Gabo 1890–1977
Medium
Perspex
Dimensions
Object: 352 x 410 x 400 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the artist 1977
Reference
T02146

On loan to: Muzeum Sztuki (Lodz, Poland)

Exhibition: Superorganism. The Avant-Garde and the Experience of Nature

Display caption

In his constructions, Gabo sought to create a sense of a defined space without enclosing or delimiting it. Radically, he used transparent materials to achieve this. Part of the ideology of his constructivism was that individual works could be made numerous times in different sizes and from different materials. This piece was conceived in 1928 but the actual object was constructed in London in 1936 using Perspex, a new material that was clearer and more malleable than others. In late years Gabo used the same form for a fountain that can be seen on the south bank of the Thames opposite the Houses of Parliament.

Gallery label, May 2007

Catalogue entry

Naum Gabo 1890-1977

T02146 Torsion 1929-37

Not inscribed
Perspex, 13 7/8 x 16 1/8 x 15 3/4 (35.3 x 41 x 40)
Presented by the artist 1977
Exh: Constructions by N. Gabo, London Gallery, London, January 1938 (3) as 'Construction "Torsion" (variant of construction 1929)' 1937; Gabo: Constructions in Space, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, March 1938 (7); Gabo-Pevsner, Museum of Modern Art, New York, February-April 1948 (works not numbered, repr.) as 'Torsion' 1929-36; Gabo: Space and Kinetic Constructions, Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York, April-May 1953 (2) as 'Torsion' 1928-36; Alexander Calder: Mobiles - Naum Gabo: Kinetic Constructions and Constructions in Space, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, October-November 1953 (Gabo 6, repr.) as 'Torsion' 1928-36; Naum Gabo, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, April-June 1965 (p5, repr.) as 'Torsie' 1929; Kunsthalle, Mannheim, June-August 1965 (6, repr.); Wilhelm-Lehmbruck-Museum, Duisburg, August-October 1965 (6, repr.); Kunsthaus, Zurich, October-December 1965 (6, repr.); Den inre och den yttre Rymden, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, January-February 1966 (60, repr.); Naum Gabo, Tate Gallery, March-April 1966 (8, repr.); Naum Gabo, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, March-April 1968 (5); Naum Gabo: The Constructive Process, Tate Gallery, November 1976-January 1977 (35, repr.)
Repr: Herbert Read and Leslie Martin, Gabo: Constructions, Sculpture, Paintings, Drawings, Engravings (London 1957), pls.53 and 54 as 'Torsion' 1929

This was apparently exhibited at the London Gallery in 1938 as 'Construction "Torsion" (variant of construction 1929)' 1937 and is made of Perspex, a material which was not marketed until 1934.

It is a project for a revolving fountain which was eventually carried out many years later, in 1972-3, and is at present installed on a site in London near the southern end of Westminster Bridge, between St. Thomas' Hospital and the river. The Tate therefore now owns the initial model in plastic (T02171), this version T02146, an enlargement in bronze made in 1960-4 (T01171) and the fountain itself (T01754).

Gabo told the compiler in 1972 that he gave a small model (possibly yet another version) to his brother Antoine Pevsner, so that he could make a variant from it with his permission. This was the sculpture by Pevsner known as 'Construction in Space (Project for a Fountain)' 1929, in copper and glass, which is now in the Kunstmuseum, Basle.

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.240-1, reproduced p.240

Tate Paper

Naum Gabo and the Quandaries of the Replica

Christina Lodder, Naum Gabo and the Quandaries of the Replica; Tate Papers no.8

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