Seeking Dimensions of Space and Time in Naum Gabo's Public Monuments, 1951–1973

Smith, Connor, Art History - Art Department, University of Virginia
Turner, Elizabeth, AS-Art (ARTD), University of Virginia

This thesis investigates a selection of key public monuments by the modern Russian-American sculptor Naum Gabo (1895–1977). Within the current scholarship, most of the discussion around Gabo has centered his seminal theoretical text, the 'Realistic Manifesto (1920), and his production of small-scale, radically spatial models and gallery objects constructed in plastic, glass, and other modern materials. In his 1920 manifesto, Gabo advocated for a new sculpture founded on the forms of space and time; but he also demanded that this new sculpture belonged "in the squares and in the streets." With this intention of the artist in mind, this research prioritizes Gabo's public monuments in order to posit each of these works as culminating realizations of the artist's career-long goals of realizing perceptions of space and time for the public through monumental sculpture. Beginning with Gabo's first monument, constructed in 1951 for the Baltimore Museum of Art, and ending with Gabo's final public work, a fountain at the St. Thomas' Hospital in London, each chapter investigates one of Gabo's monuments from a phenomenological perspective, in order to highlight the ways in which they each enable the viewer to perceive the realities of time and space within a dialogue created between large-scale, site-specific sculpture and the seeing and moving body of the subject.

BA (Bachelor of Arts)
public art, sculpture, modern art, Constructivism, Naum Gabo
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