Naum Gabo

Opus 6


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Naum Gabo 1890–1977
Wood engraving on paper
Image: 385 × 334 mm
Bequeathed by Miriam Gabo, the artist's widow 1995

Display caption

In 1935 the Russian-born artist Naum Gabo, a pioneer of abstraction, arrived in England as a refugee. He influenced the development of Modernism in the 1930s and 1940s and was associated with the artists Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth, his neighbours in the fishing village of St Ives during the Second World War. After the war he moved to the USA.

There are strong holdings of Gabo's work in the Collection as a result of his stay in England and of his friendship with a previous Tate Director, Sir Norman Reid. Gabo's celebrated geometric constructions (see Archive display) examine the object in space. These wood engravings reflect his sculptural concerns in a two-dimensional format.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

Naum Gabo 1890-1977

P11387 Opus 6 1955–1956

Inscribed ‘Opus 6’ b.l. and ‘Gabo’ b.r.
Wood-engraving, 15¿ x 13¿ (38.3 x 33.3) on Japanese paper, 23¿ x 19¿ (60.8 x 48.4).
Presented by the artist 1971.
Repr: H.Read and L.Martin, Gabo, 1957, pl. 131 (another, slightly different impression).

Gabo has described (letter of 28 April 1968) how he was encouraged to try his hand at print making by the late William Ivins Jr, Curator of Prints and later Acting Director of the Metropolitan Museum, who was his neighbour in Woodbury, Conn. He made his first five wood engravings, entitled ‘Opus 1–5’ during the winter and part of the summer of 1950. In 1967 he presented a set to the Tate through the American Federation of Arts (T947 i–v).
'Opus 6’ is considerably larger than any of these and was done later, about 1955 6, as a sketch for the bas-relief which he made in 1956 for the lobby of the U.S. Rubber Company Building in Radio City, N.Y. It was actually made in London.

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1970–1972, London 1972.


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