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Naum Gabo (1890-1977)
Naum Gabo (1890-1977)

Linear Construction in Space No. 2

Details
Naum Gabo (1890-1977)
Linear Construction in Space No. 2
perspex with nylon monofilament with black insets on an integral wooden base
39 x 28 x 28 cm. (excluding the wooden base)
42 x 32 x 32 cm. (including the wooden base)
Conceived in 1949 and executed in 1957; the base conceived in 1957-1958
Provenance
Commissioned from the artist by Piet and Ida Sanders in 1956.
Literature
H. Read (a.o.), Gabo: Constructions, Sculpture, Painting, Drawings, Engravings, London/Bradford 1957, no. 86, p. 184 (another example illustrated).
George Rickey, 'Naum Gabo 1890-1977', in: Artforum, vol. 16 (1977) no. 3 (November), pp. 22-27 (another example illustrated p. 25).
S. Nash and J. Merkert, Naum Gabo: Sixty Years of Constructivism: Including Catalogue Raisonné of the Constructions and Sculptures, Munich 1985, no. 55.11, p. 236, as: Linear Construction in Space No. 2.
M. Hammer and C. Lodder, Constructing Modernity: the Art and Career of Naum Gabo, New Haven 2000, pp. 323-326 (another example illustrated p. 324).
P. Sanders, Herinneringen, Amsterdam, 2009, p. 116 (illustrated).
Exhibited
Paris, Galerie Claude Bernard, Sculpture, February-March 1958.
Rotterdam, Boymans Museum/Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Gabo, 12 April-23 June 1958, no. 18.
Schiedam, Stedelijk Museum Schiedam, Schiedammers tonen hun kunstbezit, 18 December 1959-16 February 1960, no. 194.
Schiedam, Stedelijk Museum Schiedam, Collectie Piet en Ida Sanders. Leven met kunst, 30 June-21 October 2012.

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Alexandra Bots
Alexandra Bots

Lot Essay

Created especially for Piet and Ida Sanders, Linear Construction in Space No. 2 is an example of one of Naum Gabo's best-known and most recognised sculptures, one which he himself considered to be a masterpiece. With its striating, spray of filaments emanating from its centre, seemingly oscillating and undulating in wave-forms that appear linked both to the solid rationality of mathematics and to the sublime, Linear Construction in Space No. 2 is one of the purest expressions of Gabo's unique constructivism. Gabo had honed his visual language gradually in Norway, Berlin, Paris, London and Soviet Russia in the previous decades; it now flourished following his move to the United States of America. The strands of nylon and the clarity of the perspex in Linear Construction in Space No. 2 demonstrate perfectly the importance of light, space and rhythm to Gabo; he has focussed on modern materials, celebrating the modern world, while also presenting them in such a way that their solidity is thrown almost into question: the cordage and the clear material hint at a dissolving of substance, a renunciation of the mass usually associated with sculpture.

Piet and Ida Sanders had seen and admired one of the larger examples of Linear Construction in Space No. 2 in the Stedelijk Museum; they were impressed by it so much that they requested that Gabo create another version for them. He would subsequently also design the wooden base for it, where the veins in the wood appear to echo and reflect the movement of the strands fanning out above. Of the 26 versions of Linear Construction in Space No. 2 listed in the catalogue raisonné of Gabo's works, many are unique variations rather than pure copies, varying in scale and appearance; indeed, it has been pointed out that some of the later examples benefitted from Gabo's hindsight and are therefore in a better state of preservation than the very first ones. A number are also in museums, including one presented by Gabo himself to Tate, London in memory of his friend, the art historian Sir Herbert Read, who had himself voiced his own admiration of the composition.

It was in 1949 that Gabo had struck upon the composition that would come to inform Linear Construction in Space No. 2. Originally, it featured as an element for a proposed interior to be used in the Esso Building in the Rockefeller Center in New York. While the larger project was unrealised, Gabo had seen the serene power of the sculptures incorporated within it and now returned to them, creating a string of unique variations. With its combination of nylon wires placed with near-scientific precision and the use of perspex, this is a vision of purity that chimes perfectly with Gabo's vision of the world.

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