Jul 20, 2004

Opus 5

Opus 5


Naum Gabo

(American, 1890–1977)

Wood engraving in brown ink

Support: Japanese paper

Sheet: 27.9 x 22.9 cm (11 x 9 in.); Image: 24.1 x 20.3 cm (9 1/2 x 8 in.)

Purchase from the Karl B. Goldfield Trust 1996.250

Catalogue raisonné: Williams 25



Rather than carving or modeling, Gabo constructed his sculptures from planar and linear elements, often using transparent planes of glass and plastic to describe a three-dimensional form not only in terms of the outer shell of its surface, but also in terms of a skeleton of structural planes. In 1950, he began a series of 21 wood engravings in which line defines forms surrounded by a stippled background; the viewer sees through the shapes to the inflected tones and textures of the space around them. In this medium, the effect of transparent forms floating within an indeterminate space is even more pronounced than in Gabo's paintings of the 1940s. Gabo experimented continually, inking blocks differently for each impression because while the engraving created the basic image in the block, the inking and printing produced texture and tone. He printed by applying pressure with a burnishing tool to the back of the paper as it lay on the inked block. By using thin Japanese paper, Gabo could see the image through the paper and, by carefully controlling the amount of pressure exerted, achieved variations in tone.

See also
PR - Wood engraving
Type of artwork: 

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