The Barber Institute of Fine Arts have recently acquired Naum Gabo’s Linear Construction in Space No. 1 (1942/3), made during the wartime period spent in St Ives. Sculptural abstraction is evoked through the thermoplastic properties of the perspex used to create the work, a new form of plastic provided by a chemist friend. This was probably a prototype for a public sculpture planned to be put near a textile factory, celebrating skilled workers use of modern technology. Sadly this project was never realised.A small yet engrossing and powerful piece, its positioning against a mirrored wall allows the viewer to see their reflection through the transparent material of the sculpture.
This is an exciting new addition to the Barber galleries developing its collection of modern art – the institute did not allow works made after 1899 until 1967! Don’t miss it in the cabinet between the Red and Beige galleries.
The Barber also have a new temporary addition to their collection, Ferdinand Hodler’s The Woodcutter (1910) on loan from Von der Heydt-Museum in Wuppertal, Germany. This painting was created as the design for the new Swiss 50 franc note. The only condition the Swiss National bank set was that the image should be ‘unmistakably Swiss in character, so Hodler chose to depict a woodcutter. There is an overwhelming sense of suspense in this piece, caught in the moment just before the cutter swings his axe into the tree. The immense effort required to swing the axe is evident in the woodcutter’s red face and clenched teeth.
The loan of this painting marks the centenary of Hodler’s death. Dr Deborah Lower, Senior Lecturer at the University of Glasgow is delivering a lecture exploring the work of Ferdinand Hodler, ‘Men, Money and Mountains’ at 1.10-2pm on the 24th January in the Barber Lecture theatre.
Hodler’s The Woodcutter is on display until 25th February 2018.