Naum Gabo, Model for “Constructive Torso”, 1917/18
Naum Gabo, Model for “Constructive Torso”, 1917/18

Naum Gabo (1890-1977)

Model for "Constructive Torso", 1917/18

Naum Gabo – born as Naum Borisowitsch Pevsner in Briansk, Russia – was one of the most important representatives of the Russian avant-garde in Berlin during the 1920s. After a period studying in Munich, he spent the First World War in Norwegian exile, where he created important early works like the Constructivist Torso. He returned to Russia from Norway to find the country of his birth in a mood of radical social change following the revolution. Here, in 1920, he published the Realistic Manifesto together with his brother Antoine Pevsner. In this work the two of them demanded “(that) the very foundation of Art be erected on the real laws of Life”. Gabo regarded this as possible, as he perceived a universal law in the perception of form and reality which linked scientists, engineers and artists.
As Gabo’s understanding of art could not be reconciled with the tendencies of Socialist Realism, in 1922 he moved to Berlin, where he participated in the First Russian Art Exhibition. In 1935 he fled from the Nazi regime to London, and later he emigrated to the USA, where he died in 1977.
The Constructivist Torso dating from 1917 is a good example of Gabo’s new plastic concept. Gabo did not develop the figure from a material centre but assembled it from separate geometric, plane segments. Plasticity is constructed using the two-dimensional means of line and plane surface. The emptiness that emerges between the plane segments in this way is a plastic medium, making space into an integral component of the sculpture.

Model for “Constructive Torso”

1917/18, reassembled in 1985 
117 x 93 x 50 cm
Acquired using funds from the Foundation DKLB, Berlin

The Work of Naum Gabo © Nina & Graham Williams