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IN THE SPOTLIGHT

31/05/23 /// NAUM GABO; RESTORATION PROJECT

Restoration of work by Naum Gabo Completed


Bas-Relief on a Circular Surface, Semi-Spheric is one of Naum Gabo’s early works; at the time, he was just beginning to experiment with spherical themes. Created in 1938, the work is made of early plastics, which are known to deteriorate over time. This prompted us to conduct a detailed assessment of the work’s condition. According to restorer Carien van Aubel, the plastics used (cellulose nitrate and cellulose acetate) both showed the following phenomena: discolouration, craquelure, deformation and loss of mechanical properties (cracks and fissures). As a result, some spokes and parts of the curve were detached or broken. Both the curve and the spokes had been restored in the past. Under UV light it was clear that the spokes had been replaced during a previous treatment, as they did not fluoresce. Based on Van Aubel’s condition report, the Foundation decided that restoration was the only option. 


Van Aubel began the restoration process in December 2022. As well as being a conservator, she is also a chemist and a specialist in the conservation and restoration of plastics, working for the Tate Modern in London (http://carienvanaubel.com/), among others.


After several months of restoration work, in which the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands was also involved (material analysis and 3D scanning), Van Aubel recently put the finishing touches to the restoration. The JK Art Foundation would like to thank Suzan de Groot (RCE) for her dedication and Carien van Aubel for her expertise and skill: the result is truly astonishing.

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Constant Nieuwenhuijs (1920-2005)
Line without end, det. (1959)

Carien van Aubel with the restored work: Bas-Relief on a circular surface, semi-spheric, 1938.​
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