GEGO. Line as Object
This elegant book was published by Hatje Cantz on the occasion of an exhibition co-organized by 3 institutions – Hamburger Kunsthalle, Kunstmuseum Stuttgart and Henry Moore Institute in Leeds. The show, presented in all three cities (the Leeds presentation is still ahead – 24 July until 19 October!), is a selection of works spanning between 1957 and 1991 and examined Gego’s sculptural objects as well as works on paper. ‘GEGO. Line as Object’ offers four interesting essays discussing line in space and on a surface in Gego’s ouevre: ‘No Day Without a Line’ by Brigitte Koelle, ‘Growing Lines into Sculpture’ by Lisa Le Feuvre, ‘Gego: Architect of Fluid Space’ by Eva-Marina Froitzheim and ‘Gego’s Works on Paper’ by Petra Roettig (all texts are bilingual – English and German). Even the refined layout (starting with a subtle cover) is in line with the artist’s sophisticated art.
Even if the book copes quite well with illustrations, I agree with one of the authors, Lisa Le Feuvre, that photography is not able to express fully Gego’s work: ‘A photograph is taken from a fixed point looking in but Gego encourages a mobile spectator who occupies the work, demanding a close, intense and direct relationship and drawing attention to the space and coordinates within which humans exist.’ The book includes many pics of smaller objects and works on paper. Additionally we get gallery shots, some featuring Gego at work. The artist was known for drawing plans of installations for each exhibition and supervising the process, in which all mattered – lightning, circulation of visitors, proportion in space.
Gego avoided calling her objects ‘sculptures’, her famous saying sounded: Sculpture, three-dimensional forms of solid material. Never what I do! She also said The net is life. Brigit Koelle in her essay comments on Gego’s net-like structure: ‘It is characteristic of the Reticulareas to have no beginning and no end, no centre and no edges, no hierarchy, no balance. Everything is equal, linked together, infinitive. Woven into an interrelated web, the modular configurations are linked one another by multiple joints and nodes; they unite to form a dematerialised object that offers a paradoxical opportunity to look through it as well as at it. The shape of this work constantly changes, depending upon perspective and it is difficult for the observer to vie it from a distance because he is always, it seems, right in the middle.’ That’s the essence of Gego’s works (which btw sounds close to Yayoi Kusama) and stresses the fact that experimenting with lines resulted in engaging the viewer in the work of art. By exploring geometric structures as well as the space it functioned it and by putting a spectator in the centre, Gego constantly made new discoveries.
GEGO (a nickname adopted by Gertrude Goldschmidt after her big sister invented it) was born in Hamburg in 1912. In 1938 just after graduating the Faculty of Architecture in Stuttgart, she emigrated to Caracas, Venezuela, where she lived until her death in 1994. Surprisingly Gego began working as an artist at the age of 41, four years later she already produced public sculptures. She was inspired by artists like Jesus Rafael Soto, Buckminster Fuller or Henry Moore. Gego’s training as architect played a fundamental role - ‘she had not only learned how to calculate volumes, but also to design spaces and organise their functional order while taking the user’s perspective into account.’ Gego’s private notes – surbiduras – which she made in either English, German or Spanish, were published in 2005, and provided ‘insight into the thoughts, ideas and theoretical concepts of an artist who rarely spoke about her own life and art. Despite her large public projects, exhibitions in renowned international museums and decades od teaching at various universities, she preferred being engrossed in her work in peace and quite.’ This book is a great treat for a peaceful moment, to enjoy it quietly, which I did (a lot).