GABO: Portrait of a Sculpture focuses on one artwork: Gabo’s sculpture for department store De Bijenkorf on the Coolsingel in Rotterdam.
The spatial construction from 1957 and the artworks by Zadkine and Henry Moore are seen as the three key works of Rotterdam’s unique international collection called Sculpture International Rotterdam. The history of this untitled sculpture by Gabo is interwoven with the history of the city in many ways. The immediate reason for the publication is the recently completed and long-awaited restoration of the work. The book examines the sculpture from many angles: the history of the sculpture then and now as well as its relationship to the city of Rotterdam, the sculpture in relation to Gabo’s thinking and oeuvre, and the restoration and the changing meaning of the sculpture in the public space.
In his foreword, Carel Blotkamp places Gabo's construction in a long tradition of architecture going hand in hand with sculpture.
Dees Linders (former artistic director of Sculpture Rotterdam, SIR) followed the demise and restoration of the sculpture of the sculpture by Naum Gabo at close Quarters. In her essay she explores how meaning is constructed around this artwork.
The heart of the book is formed by Patricia van Ulzen's research into the origins and reception of the sculpture on the Coolsingel. All details are meticulously reconstructed - from the first, explorative conversations the artist had with the management of de Bijenkorf in 1954, and the subsequent designing and production proces, to the unveiling ceremony in 1957.
In the interlude De Bijenkorf as a vehicle of culture, Siebe Thissen shows that de Bijenkorf has already been interested in visual art since 1917.
Toke van Helmond-Lehning discusses the friendship between Naum Gabo and the Dutch writer, historian and anarchist Arthur Lehning.