Spheric Theme

Courtyard of the Engineering Quadrangle
Naum Gabo
American, born in Russia, 1890-1977

Naum Gabo was captivated by spatial relationships. Before Gabo, traditional sculpture had dealt with material bodies in terms of solid mass; the artist's image, trapped in the stone, could be realized only by cutting away extraneous parts. Even working with fashioned pr molded material, the sculptor needed to fill space with the solid form of his object.

Gabo, however, used a new system in which he employed a 'stereometric cube." This schematic design involved removal of four of the six sides of the cube, while retaining the top and the bottom, and replacing the rejected planes with two internal, interlocking diagonals. Thus the illusion of solid mass within the cube could be destroyed, allowing the interior space to appear open and free.

After leaving Russia (about 1915), Gabo joined his brother and fellow sculptor Antoine Pevsner in Norway. Of this productive sojourn he said, "I was living in the fjords of Norway where the atmosphere was as if one were not of this world. Very often the sky was above and the sky was below and you felt as if you were between two skies. The sense of space was so intense that it helped me in my imagination to go on with that work, with my images, with the method of space."

After working out several variants of Spheric Theme, Gabo explained in 1957, "I felt that the visual character of space is not angular... I enclose the space in one curved continuous surface."

Stainless steel
Height: 8 feet
Executed in 1973-1974; installed in 1974
Limited of a series of five

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Text based on
Living with Modern Sculpture
by Patrick J. Kelleher.

Concept developed by Mary Jane Lydenberg, Annual Giving
Illustrations by Heather Lovett
Edited by Laurel Masten Cantor

Published by the Office of
Communications/Publications, Stanhope Hall
through special arrangement with
the Princeton Art Museum

All rights reserved
Copyright (c) 1982 by
the trustees of Princeton University