The first segment of the expected transformation of one of Rotterdam’s main roads, the Coolsingel, is nearing completion. Unofficially named ‘the Gabo’, ‘the Thing’, ‘the Flower’, or ‘the Tulip’ (Rotterdammers love their nicknames), the untitled sculpture by Naum Gabo is now restored to its former glory. Since 1957, the constructivist sculpture has graced the pavement in front of the Bijenkorf luxury warehouse, designed by Marcel Breur (1955-1957).
The renovation of ‘the Gabo’ was done by Rotterdam based firm MeestersIn. The protective panels of the scaffolding around the sculpture are being removed this week, showing the first results of the 5-month renovation. The most striking are the 8 main ribs which are now covered in layers of zinc, brass and a protective coating. Within a few weeks, the lighting fixtures in the base will be repaired as well: a light beam will be shining up again towards the tower and its black, rasterized inner core.
For the Russian-American artist Naum Gabo (1890-1977), this sculpture was not only his largest but also his most important one. To this day, the sculpture is considered one of the most important modernist sculptures in public space – of the Western world. For Rotterdam, the arrival of ‘the Gabo’ together with Ossip Zadkine’s The destroyed city marked the beginning of Rotterdam’s International Sculpture Collection, which is now managed by Sculpture International Rotterdam (a program of the Centre for Visual Arts Rotterdam). After WWII, both art works were commissioned by De Bijenkorf, to give Rotterdam’s citizens new symbols of strength and hope in rebuilding their destroyed city.