Pevsner, Anton (Antoine; 1886–1962) and Naum Nehemia (Gabo; 1890–1977)

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PEVSNER, ANTON (Antoine; 1886–1962) and NAUM NEHEMIA (Gabo; 1890–1977)

PEVSNER, ANTON (Antoine ; 1886–1962) and NAUM NEHEMIA (Gabo ; 1890–1977), Russian sculptors. The two brothers were born in a village near Orel, south of Moscow. Anton Pevsner studied at the academies of art in Kiev and St. Petersburg, while Gabo went to Munich to work for a civil engineering degree. From 1911 to the outbreak of World War i Anton Pevsner was in Paris, where the painter *Modigliani was among his friends. In 1917, the brothers returned to Russia and were appointed professors at the Academy of Art in Moscow. They now emerged as the leaders of Constructivism, a movement related technically and aesthetically to architecture and engineering. In 1920, they published their Realist Manifesto, which set out the theoretical foundations of Constructivism. When the Soviet state began to demand that artists apply their talent to political propaganda, the Pevsner brothers refused. In 1923 they immigrated to Paris. Here they collaborated on settings and costumes for a Diaghilev ballet and repeatedly showed their work together. In 1931 Anton Pevsner was a cofounder of the Abstraction-Creation group in Paris, and from 1946 to 1952 was an active member of the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles. In 1948 Gabo, who had settled in the United States, lectured at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University.

The work of these two sculptors is closely related. While in their early works figurative elements still appear, their mature work is entirely nonfigurative. Anton preferred to work in metal, usually bronze, to get the solidity and permanence that are lacking in the materials – plastic and nylon – often used by his brother. The creations of both are characterized by strong rhythm, and by the movement of free forms into dynamic new shapes.


C. Giedion-Welcker, Contemporary Sculpture (1961), index; idem, Antoine Pevsner (Eng., 1961); A. Pevsner, Biographical Sketch of my Brothers, Naum Gabo and Antoine Pevsner (1964); Museum of Modern Art, New York, Naum Gabo-Antoine Pevsner… (Eng., 1948).

[Alfred Werner]