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Naum Gabo

American, born Russia, 1890–1977

Linear No. 2, Variation, 1962–65

Stainless steel coil on plastic
31 x 16 x 25 inches (78.7 x 40.6 x 63.5 cm)
Gift of the Seymour H. Knox Foundation, Inc., 1965

Naum Gabo believed that art should reflect contemporary culture and hoped to express the successful coexistence of human beings with science and technology in his sculpture. In this work, he used contemporary materials—stainless steel and Plexiglas—to reflect the optimism and excitement of technological progress and the promise of industrial culture. The work was designed very precisely, using Gabo’s training in engineering, science, and math—he even designed a star in the center, which can be seen from a certain angle. Linear No. 2, Variation reflects the ideas of Constructivism, to which Gabo and his brother, Antoine Pevsner, made significant contributions in terms of ideology and form. Additional Constructivist interests include the effect of motion, the negation of mass, the importance of empty space as part of a composition, and the use of line as sculptural form. Gabo did not wish his sculpture to be viewed solely in scientific or mathematical terms, as he also used intuition in his designs in order to elicit feelings, and, he hoped, to provide a kind of solace and renewal for the spirit.