Naum Gabo

Sketch for Relief Construction


Not on display

Naum Gabo 1890–1977
Graphite on paper
Support: 181 × 143 mm
Presented by the artist 1977

Display caption

Gabo made several constructions of this type in Russia. All have since been lost or destroyed. His earliest relief sculpture 'Head of a Woman', 1916-17 was figurative. This design appears to be completely abstract. The juxtaposition of planes and lines and the diagonal orientation of the elements have some similarity to 'Design for a Construction in a Niche', 1918 (T02152), also in this display. It is unknown if the other sketches in this display relate to specific works, or were realised as sculptures. At this time Gabo's constructions were made from plastic or wood. Some maquettes were made of cardboard.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

Naum Gabo 1890-1977

T02151 Sketch for a Relief Construction 1917

Inscribed 'N. GABO 1917' b.r.
Pencil on paper, 7 1/8 x 5 5/8 (17.9 x 14.5)
Presented by the artist 1977
Exh: Naum Gabo, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, April-June 1965 (t4); Kunsthalle, Mannheim, June-August 1965 (51); Wilhelm-Lehmbruck-Museum, Duisburg, August-October 1965 (51); Kunsthaus, Zurich, October-December 1965 (51); Den inre och den yttre Rymden, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, January-February 1966 (111); Naum Gabo, Tate Gallery, March-April 1966 (70, repr.); Naum Gabo: The Constructive Process, Tate Gallery, November 1976-January 1977 (8) as 'Sketch for a Relief Construction'

Several relief constructions of this type were made in Russia but have since been lost or destroyed. Whereas Gabo's earliest relief sculpture 'Head of a Woman' 1916-17 was still figurative, this design seems to be completely abstract. It may have served as a preliminary study for the relief reproduced in Alexei Pevsner, A Biographical Sketch of my Brothers Naum Gabo and Antoine Pevsner (Amsterdam 1964), p.26 as 'Construction in a Niche', Moscow 1919.

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.231-2, reproduced p.231


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