Gabo, born in 1890 in Bryansk, Russia, had been sent to Munich to study medicine. Naum Gabo was interested in chemistry and physics and then took art history courses from Heinrich Wölfflin.
Three years later he wrote the Manifesto of Realism, where he laid the groundwork for new art that would be known later as “Constructivism.”
The idea was that art should be based on two fundamental elements: space and time; that volume is not the only physical expression; that static patterns cannot express actual time and existence, and therefore kinetic and energetic elements should be integrated into the works. Furthermore, the line should not have a purely documentary role, but a suggestive one, and should create awareness of powers and impulses.
Naum Gabo, Constructed Head No. 2, 1916 is in the tradition of Picasso-inspired Cubist sculpture, yet the great novelty here is that the plastic artist does not build in mass as Picasso did, but uses sheet metal to structure and mark out void spaces.
Naum Gabo’s plastics surprise with their distant, elusive presence, despite the sheer obviousness of their strict engineering, based on an autocratic pattern of lines and crisscrossed shapes that intertwine with each other. One notices deepness despite their excessive complexity, opaqueness over their translucency, mystery despite the bare revelation of their inner structure, and almost a kind of triviality despite the contemporary nature of the materials used: steel, nylon, and glass surfaces.
Instead of being in a symbolistic concept of sculpture that transmits an emotion, he conceives of his objects as digitized manufactured artifacts; it is abstract plasticity that seeks to make visible dynamic forces that are projected into space. This allows our gaze to enter into space.