“In spite of the demand of the renascent spirit of our time, Art is still nourished by impression, external appearance, and wanders helplessly back and forth from Naturalism to Symbolism, from Romanticism to Mysticism. The attempts of the Cubists and the Futurists to lift the visual arts from the bogs of the past have led only to new delusions”
Naum Gabo, Realist Manifesto, 1920
Born in Soviet Russia in 1890, Naum Gabo was instrumental in spreading the influence of Constructivism in Western Europe. In 1920, together with his brother Antoine Pevsner, Gabo wrote the Realist Manifesto, stating that art should have an independent role and not be subservient to architecture or design but, through abstraction, be a means by which to delve beneath the surface of man’s consciousness.
Gabo created his first 'Linear Construction no. 1', now in Tate Modern, in 1942-1943 while living in St Ives. It marked a decided shift in his work and gained much public prominence. At a time when the world was torn apart by war Gabo desired for his work to be accessible and enjoyed by all as it was "the most immediate and most effective of all means of communication between human beings". Dedicated to the liberation of Leningrad, this work was the beginning of Gabo’s exploration into the use of string as a material.
Gabo’s friends, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, were also experimenting with string during this period, although both Moore and Hepworth focused upon the physicality of the sculpture using coarse string and heavy materials such as stone. Gabo aimed for the metaphysical in his string sculptures, making the base secondary through its transparency.
Linear Constructions became an enduring fascination for Gabo, he created eighteen over his career. This present work, 'Linear Construction in Space No. 1' from 1969, is a mesmerising display of space constructed through intersecting linear forms. The nylon threads in this work capture the light within their web like a prism, spreading it across the entire sculpture. The Perspex structure reflects the light at different angles, with its transparency perfectly contrasting against the opaque threads. 'Linear Construction in Space No. 1' is a balance of space, construction and light.
'Linear Construction in Space No. 1' is unusual in its size, having sixty seven notches down each side on which the string sits, unlike a number of similar pieces which have sixty. Other versions of 'Linear Construction in Space No. 1' are held in the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; The Phillips Collection, Washington; Hirshorn Museum, Washington.
This 'Linear Construction in Space No. 1' previously belonged to the renowned collectors and philanthropists Harry and Mary Anderson. Their outstanding collection of 20th century art, including the present work, was displayed at the exhibition Celebrating Modern Art: The Anderson Collection at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 2000.
Marlborough Gallery, Inc., New York (acquired directly from the artist 1969)
Collection of Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson (acquired from the above January 1974)
Christie's, New York, 16 November 2018, lot 662 (sold by the above collectors)
San Francisco Museum
of Modern Art, Celebrating Modern Art:
The Anderson Collection, October 2000- January
2001, pp.241 and 277, pl. 159 illus.
J. Clapp, Sculpture Index, vol. 2, New Jersey, 1970, p. 411
C. Sanderson and C. Lodder, Naum Gabo: Sixty Years of Constructivism Including Catalogue Raisonné of the Constructions and Sculptures, Dallas, 1985, p. 231, no. 48.16
This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by Nina Williams, née Gabo.