Gabo’s Stones: Naum Gabo
Henry Moore Institute, Leeds
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While Gabo’s constructivist works in metal and plastic are well documented, less explored are his direct carvings in stone. This focused study exhibition brought together sixteen of Gabo’s stone carvings, from 1930 through to the 1960s.
The career of Naum Gabo (1890-1977) began before the Russian Revolution and was based for the last thirty years of his life in the United States, but has always had an important following in Britain.
The significance of Gabo’s constructions – in iron and early plastics and then in Perspex – is well known in the development of modern sculpture. His time in Britain – first in London and then in St. Ives – is equally significant within the history of British art.
Less well known are the stone carvings which Gabo made, though only occasionally, throughout his life. The small study show in Leeds brought together an important representation of these carvings, from the collections of Gabo’s family and the Tate Gallery.
The carvings have a fascinating range in scale, from tiny, hand-held pieces made as presents or as private talismans, to larger works which surprise by their solidity. Whatever the scale, the carvings delight the eye by the beauty of their material and the continuity of their lines, and reveal an organic quality which surprises those who think of Gabo as a mathematician of synthetic materials.
An audio recording of Martin Hammer speaking about this exhibition is available in the Audio-visual section of the Henry Moore Institute’s Research Library.