Naum Gabo

Model for Monument for an Airport


Not on display

Naum Gabo 1890–1977
Object: 63 × 121 × 76 mm
Presented by the artist 1977

Display caption

Models were an essential stage in Gabo''s working practice. He usually began with drawings, then built models, which allowed him to test the different types of materials he might use. A comparison of the models for Monument for an Airport and Spiral Theme with the finished sculptures on display in this room demonstrates the precision of his enlargement process. Two of the models incorporate pieces of stone, an idea which emerged in 1930-1.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

Naum Gabo 1890-1977

T02168 Model for Monument for an Airport 1932

Not inscribed
Plastic, 2 1/2 x 4 3/4 x 3 (6.3 x 12.7 x 7.6)
Presented by the artist 1977
Exh: Naum Gabo: The Constructive Process, Tate Gallery, November 1976-January 1977 (21, repr.) as 'Model for a Monument for an Airport' 1923

Gabo devised two different projects for an airport. The first of these, incorporating three vertical planes of glass and metal, was included in his exhibition at the Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hanover, in 1930 (19, repr.) as 'Space Construction for an Airport' 1925-6, and again in the Cubism and Abstract Art exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1936 (73, repr.), when it was stated in the catalogue to be 49.5cm high and 73.5cm long. It still belongs to Mrs Gabo.

The second project (for which this was the original model) was made partly at the suggestion of Marcus Brumwell, who was then acting as an advertising agent for Imperial Airways and wanted a device which could be used by the airline for advertising purposes on several different scales - quite small to stand on the desk of a travel agent, larger to stand in the booking hall, and possibly as much as 3 or 4m high to stand out of doors on an airport. The project was not proceeded with, but Mr Brumwell bought a more finished model 10cm high and 26cm long for himself, which he still owns. A further version some three times the size (33.3cm high and 74.3cm long) now belongs to the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island. It was acquired in 1938 and was probably the one included in Gabo's exhibition at the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, in March 1938 (14) as 'Model for an Airdrome (variant of 1924)' 1932.

Mr Brumwell recalls that Gabo was already living in London by the time he approached him, which therefore could not have been earlier than 1935, whereas the largest version was exhibited in 1938 with the date 1932. Mrs Gabo says she is almost sure that her husband showed T02168 to her as one of the works he brought with him to England, so it presumably dates from 1932 as the origin of this theme - a streamlined variant of the original version of 1925-6.

Mr Brumwell had, shortly before, commissioned another advertising device for Imperial Airways from Barbara Hepworth, which is still in use by British Airways.

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.243-4, reproduced p.243

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