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NAUM GABO (1890-1977)
NAUM GABO (1890-1977)
NAUM GABO (1890-1977)
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NAUM GABO (1890-1977)
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NAUM GABO (1890-1977)

A Portfolio of Twelve Monoprinted Wood Engravings

Details
NAUM GABO (1890-1977)
A Portfolio of Twelve Monoprinted Wood Engravings
the complete set of twelve monoprint wood engravings in colors, circa 1977, each signed in pencil, loose (as issued), each with wide margins and in generally very good condition, together with the text by Michael Mazur, justification pages and leather covered portfolio case, framed
Overall: 22 7/8 x 19 ¼ in. (581 x 489 mm.)
(12)
Literature
see Williams 1-8
Exhibited
Williamstown, Massachusetts, Williams College Museum of Art; Boston, Massachusetts, Museum of Fine Arts; The Modern Art of the Print: Selections from the Collection of Lois and Michael Torf, 5 May-14 October 1984, no. 57, p. 143; pl. XXV, p. 81 (illustrated)

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Lindsay Griffith
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Lot Essay

Naum Gabo’s twelve wood engravings form an integral part of his artistic production, most relating closely to his sculptures. These are characterized by a clean technological look and were often constructed from man-made materials such as transparent plastic, shaped and arranged as interpenetrating planes. The curving, tubular forms of Opus 6 correspond closely to those of a large wall relief executed for the U. S. Rubber Company at Radio City, New York. Opus 3 — in which the intersecting planar forms are textured by scratching, hatching, and stippling — suggests the incised surfaces of the small transparent plastic sculptures Gabo made from the 1930s onward. One of this visionary artist's primary aims was to incorporate into his work in any medium the fourth dimension of time, as expressed through rhythm and movement. The wood engraving Opus 5 (1950) with its rotating, finwinged forms suggests mysterious, celestial movement.
Gabo took up printmaking relatively late in his career. A Connecticut neighbor, William Ivins, the brilliant former curator of prints at the Metropolitan Museum, introduced burin and block as a diversion for the ailing artist in the winter of 1950. It is not surprising that the wood engraving medium appealed to him, for the block offers a smooth, resistant surface that the burin can incise only when guided by the controlled hand of a purposeful mind. Gabo elected to engrave images that, like his sculptures, stem from the scientifically plotted arcs and curves of an engineer or mathematician. Between 1950 and 1973 he engraved twelve blocks, which he printed at different times with many expressive variations, including color of ink. By varying the pressure as he hand-rubbed the sheet laid down on the inked blocks, Gabo picked up different densities of ink, usually on thin, receptive Japanese papers. Forms recede or advance, rotate on one or another axis, become opaque or transparent. Just as the sculptures change as one's viewpoint moves, so do the prints take on altered appearance as one shape or area Is emphasized in the printing.
Although it was the artist's intention to make sets of these prints, the selection and mode of presentation was not resolved until after his death in 1977, when his widow, Miriam, and the artist Michael Mazur assembled the portfolios. Because of the many variations in printing, no uniform edition exists. This portfolio was the first to be sold and, in addition to the twelve prints, Opus 1-12 includes nine variant proofs from six blocks, all individually selected by the Torfs.
Sue W. Reed, The Modern Art of the Print: Selections from the Collection of Lois and Michael Torf, p.81

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