05.08.1890, Bryansk – 23.08.1977, Waterbury, Connecticut, USA
Sculptor, designer, graphic artist, theorist

Gabo was the son of an engineer and his brother was the artist Antoine Pevsner. He began drawing at an early age and also wrote poetry. In 1910 he enrolled at the University of Munich, where he read medicine and natural sciences. He studied with Rentgen, Bayer and Eisenstein and attended Heinrich Wölfflin’s art history lectures. In 1912 he transferred to the Engineering School. His first proto-constructivist sculptures were made in Christiania (Oslo) during the war. He adopted the pseudonym Gabo in 1915. In 1917 he and his brother returned to Moscow. In late 1919 and early 1920, he designed his first kinetic constructions. In August 1920 Gabo and Pevsner published the Realistic Manifesto to coincide with a joint, one-day exhibition with Gustav Klutsis. In 1922, Gabo moved in Germany, having gone to Berlin initially to take part in the first Russian art exhibition at the Van Diemen gallery. In 1924, a joint exhibition with Pevsner entitled ‘Russian Constructivists’ was held at the Percier gallery in Paris. In 1927, at the Machine Age Exhibition in New York, he presented his design for a radio tower for the town of Serpukhov. Also in 1927, he designed a set of geometric constructions and a ‘lighting script’ for George Balanchine’s ballet, La Chatte, performed by Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. At exhibitions in Germany and Holland, Gabo showed transparent and semi-transparent three-dimensional constructions and kinetic objects. He appeared in various publications, including bauhaus in 1928. He was also in contact with the De Stijl movement. His first solo exhibition, Konstruktive Plastik, was held in Hanover in 1930. Keeping his links with Russia, in 1931 he entered the design competition for the Palace of Soviets. From 1932 he lived in Paris, where he was involved in the Abstraction-Création group, and then in 1935 he moved to Britain, where he was editor and author of the lead article in Circle: An International Survey of Constructivist Art (1937). In 1946 he moved to the US, obtaining citizenship in 1952. In 1948 he had a joint exhibition with Pevsner at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 1953–1954 he was a professor at Harvard University Architecture School. He designed constructions for the De Bijenkorf supermarket building in Rotterdam (1956–1957), a bas relief for New York’s Rockefeller Centre (1956) and the fountain at St Thomas’s Hospital in London (1970). In 1954 he was granted a Guggenheim fellowship, and in 1957 the collection Gabo: Constructions, Sculptures, Paintings, Drawings, Engravings was published in London. From 1965 he was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and in 1967 was given an honorary doctorate by the Royal College of Art in London. In 1971 he was awarded the title of Honorary Knights Commander of the Order of the British Empire. In 1952 he visited relatives in the USSR. In the second half of the 1960s and early 1970s a retrospective of Gabo’s work was shown in some of the world’s major museums. F.B.

Gabo