His most famous sculpture – Constructed Head #2 – Naum Gabo

His most famous sculpture – Constructed Head #2 – Naum Gabo

Naum Gabo (August 5, 1890 – August 23, 1977) was an American “constructivist” sculptor of Belarusian descent. In 1910 he went to Munich to study medicine and science-related subjects. While studying physics and engineering, Gabo read the writings of Henri Bergson and attended art historian Heinrich Wölfflin’s lectures, which combined art and science. These lectures had a significant impact on Gabo. Nahum’s romantic and literary inclinations are reflected in his early paintings. He began working using the “stereometric method” of construction while in Norway and thereby contributed significantly to the growth of “constructivism”. Born Nahum Nehemiah Pevsner, the artist changed his name to Gabo to distinguish himself from his brother, the painter Antoine Pevsner. One of Gabo’s most famous works is his first masterpiece called Constructed Head No. 2 from 1916.

“Constructed Chapter #2” dates from the period when Gabo first began to express his theories in art form. He began by building images of heads and torsos, starting with cardboard, then wood, and finally metal. Gabo’s approach was completely radical, no casting and no carving. The structure was open and cellular with intersecting planes, not a closed massive work of art. The original creation of “Constructed Head No. 2” is made of sheet metal that has been galvanized and painted with yellow ocher.

The creation, after being exhibited in Moscow, and then in Berlin and the Netherlands, was sent back to the Soviet Union by mistake. Gabo reclaimed the sculpture in pieces in the 1950s. Then he reconstructed it. Naum reassembles it after removing the paint and later makes six copies in different mediums and sizes. Gabo created a plastic version of Constructed Head No. 2 in the mid-1920s in Germany, and a phosphor bronze copy was produced thirty years later. Both sculptures were the same scale as the original. The original “Constructed Head No. 2” was exhibited alongside one of the metal replicas in 1968.

In 1920, Gabo also created a sculpture using a motor to rotate a steel blade, thus pioneering a new type of sculpture called “Kinetic Sculpture”. In August 1920, Gabo wrote the “Realist Manifesto” with Antoine Pevsner and proclaimed the principles of pure “constructivism” and criticized “Futurism” and “Cubism” as incomplete “abstract arts”. Gabo pointed out that spiritual experience is the basis of all artistic creations. Working in Russia during the revolutionary period, Gabo had to realize his creativity using poor quality raw materials and many of his creations were either lost or damaged during this time. However, the original Constructed Head No. 2 remains one of his most admired and revolutionary masterpieces.

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