Lot 317
  • 317

Naum Gabo

200,000 - 300,000 USD
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  • Naum Gabo
  • Construction: Stone with a Collar
  • Stone and plastic with slate base
  • Height: 8 in.
  • 20.3 cm


Studio of the artist (until at least 1948)
(probably) Owen Franklin
Winifred Dacre Nicholson (wife of Ben Nicholson), England
Harold Diamond, New York
Rose Fried Gallery, New York
Herbert & Nannette Rothschild, New York (acquired by 1958)
Judith Rothschild, New York (by descent from the above)


Basel, Kunsthalle, Konstruktivisten, 1937, no. 131, illustrated in the catalogue (titled Konstruktion, windend)
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Business Buys American Art, 1960
London, The Tate Gallery, Naum Gabo, 1966, n.n.
Providence, Brown University Art Museum, Herbert and Nannette Rothschild, an exhibition in celebration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the founding of Pembroke College in Brown University, 1966, no. 46
New York, Knoedler Galleries, Space and Dream, 1967, illustrated in the catalogue
Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art; Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art & San Francisco, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Encounters with Modern Art, 1996-97, no. 21, illustrated in color in the catalogue


J. Leslie Martin, Ben Nicholson & Naum Gabo, eds., Circle: International Survey of Constructive Art, London, 1937, illustrated pl. 8 (as dating from 1933)
Naum Gabo, “Toward a Unity of the Constructive Parts,” Plus, no. 1, 1938, illustrated p. 6
Naum Gabo, “Toward a Unity of Constructive Parts,” Architectural Forum, vol. 69, 1938, illustrated p. 6
"Gabo and Pevsner and Constructive Realism," XXe Siècle, Paris, 1939, no. 5/6, illustrated p. 46 (as dating from 1938)
Naum Gabo—Antoine Pevsner (exhibition catalogue), Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1948, illustrated p. 29
S. Segi, ["Constructivism and Naum Gabo,"] Mizue, no. 588, Tokyo, 1954, illustrated p. 20
Gabo: Constructions, Sculpture, Paintings, Drawings, Engravings, London, 1957, illustrated p. 183
Hebert Read & Leslie Martin, Naum Gabo, Switzerland, 1961, illustrated pl. 50
Robert Goldwater, Space and Dream, New York, 1967, illustrated p. 44
Steven A. Nash & Jörn Merkert, eds., Naum Gabo: Sixty Years of Constructivism (including Catalogue Raisonné of the Constructions and Sculptures), New York, 1985, no. 34.4


The sculpture is constructed from stone, black plastic bands and a white plastic disc. There is an old, repaired crack in the white plastic area and the black bands are held into place with glue. Overall this work is in good condition.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

The Russian artist Naum Gabo (born Naum Pevsner) is associated with various regions and movements ranging from Russian Contstructivism to Modern British and Post-War American art. Gabo sought to incorporate elements of time, space and movement within his sculpture. The present work from 1933 exemplifies this aesthetic pursuit with its interplay of lines and rhythmic dimension. Having studied medicine, engineering and natural sciences in Munich before World War I and encountering Cubism in Paris in 1912-13, Gabo based his art on principles of physics, radically transformed by Einstein and other pioneers, and translated them into avant-garde compositions. In 1913 Gabo returned to Russia, where he and his brother, the sculptor Antoine Pevsner, formed an association with a group of progressive architects, engineers and artists. The tenets of Gabo's artistic beliefs were stated in his 'Realistic Manifesto,' which he wrote in 1920 and posted at an exhibition in Moscow at the time. In that treatise, Gabo proclaimed, "the elements of art have their basis in a dynamic rhythm," and this was the guiding principle throughout his career.

Writing about Construction: Stone with a Collar in the 1997 exhibition catalogue, Innis H. Shoemaker remarked: "The merging lines and shapes of stone, slate, and plastic produce a sense of continuous movement held in perfect balance" (I.H. Shoemaker, op. cit., p. 146). This unique work, constructed of stone and plastic, was an advanced creative gesture given the date; Gabo's use of plastic in sculpture prefigures the later work of the century's greatest artists, including Alexander Archipenko. Gabo himself also recognized the radically transcendental qualities in his work (see Studio International, April 1966, p. 130). 

As Daniel Robbins wrote in his examination of this unique object, which he rightly recognized was revolutionary at the time of its execution, "In Twentieth century thinking, space and time have indeed proved to be inseparable categories of essential relationships which structure a modern reality of processes and events. For Gabo, space does not appear in works of art as volume, or the container of volumes. Space is pervasive non-material depth, which sculpture measures and so makes perceptible. Time, to works of art, does not appear in the representations of bodies in motion, but rather in those primary kinetic rhythms we also recognize in music and the dance. The Construction of 1933 [the present lot] was done in Paris, when Gabo was a leader of the Abstraction-Création group. Some of Gabo’s earlier constructions, as is clear from their titles, had joined his own artistic speculation to certain extra-artistic aspects of modern experience" (Daniel Robbins, Herbert and Nannette Rothschild, an exhibition in celebration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the founding of Pembroke College in Brown University (exhibition catalogue), Brown University Art Museum, Providence, 1966, no. 46).

Robbins continues, "While the sculpture has a core of stone, with an always shifting surface, the widely circling forms of the base, the pale plastic ‘collar,’ and the dark plastic strip gather in space and make it concrete (the forms made from plastic are almost bodiless). The swinging movement of all of these forms also creates time. And the calculated differences between the materials make the work patently a construction (put together ‘as an engineer constructs his bridges’) rather than a representation. Because of its clean ellipsoidal geometry, the image is perceived as an apparently inevitable statement of impersonal principles. It is thus related to Mondrian’s statements (rather than to statements by Arp, whose sculptures seem to have grown spontaneously, as forms in nature grow)” (ibid.).

Three related works are in the collection of the Tate Modern, London.