Rotterdam Cultural Histories #10: Naum Gabo

The untitled sculpture by Russian-American artist Naum Gabo (1890 – 1977) on the Coolsingel in Rotterdam is the largest constructivist artwork ever placed in a public space. At the time, ‘the thing’ or ‘the stylized flower’ as the 26 meter high, 40.000 kg work has come to be known, was a symbol of modernity.

In 2011, the Bijenkorf building and the artwork were declared national monuments of the post-war reconstruction period. In recent years, the sculpture has deteriorated and will be restored in 2017, alongside the long expected redevelopment of the Coolsingel. With the reclamation of public space in this nerve-center of the city it is hoped that Gabo’s sculpture will reclaim its rightful place as a landmark. In anticipation of this restoration, Rotterdam Cultural Histories #10 provides a history of the sculpture through preliminary drafts, film footage of the unveiling and documentation of various restorations that have occurred over the years.

The work was initially commissioned by Van der Wal, director of Bijenkorf department store, aided by Nelly van Doesburg, widow of Theo van Doesburg and an expert in abstract modern art. It was placed in front of Bijenkorf in 1957, itself an iconic building designed by Marcel Breuer.

This edition is organized in close cooperation with Sculpture International Rotterdam, the international program for art and public space of CBK Rotterdam. The Naum Gabo is included in the international sculpture collection of the city, Sculpture International Rotterdam, but is owned by IEF Capital.

Rotterdam Cultural Histories is a collaborative project between TENT and Witte de With that explores our common roots in Rotterdam and articulates meeting points between both of our programs. Rotterdam Cultural Histories is conceived by Defne Ayas (Director Witte de With) and Marielle Dölle (former Artistic Director TENT).




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