Constantin Brancusi (1876 - 1957)

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Guggenheim Museum New York
Celebrates Constantin Brancusi, Romanian Sculptor
COLLECTION ONLINE
Constantin Brancusi

B. 1876, HOBITZA, ROMANIA; D. 1957, PARIS
Constantin Brancusi was born February 19, 1876, in Hobitza, Romania. He studied art at the Scoala de Meserii (School of Arts and Crafts) in Craiova from 1894 to 1898 and at the Scoala Natzionala de Arte Frumoase (National School of Fine Arts) in Bucharest from 1898 to 1902. He moved to Paris in 1904, eager to continue his education in the major artistic center. The following year, he enrolled in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Brancusi secured a position in Auguste Rodin’s studio in 1907, but soon parted ways with the established sculptor, claiming, “I felt that I was not giving anything by following the conventional mode of sculpture.”
Soon after 1907, Brancusi’s mature period commenced. He began utilizing abstracted forms and sculpting by direct carving, a method characterized by working directly with the material, as opposed to the significantly more common practice of making a model to be cast or executed by others. As his work evolved, Brancusi became immersed in the Parisian avant-garde. Though he was never a member of any organized art movement, his friends included Marcel Duchamp, Fernand Léger, Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani, and Henri Rousseau. In 1913, five of Brancusi’s sculptures were included in the Armory Show in New York. Alfred Stieglitz presented the first solo show of Brancusi’s work at 291, his New York gallery, in 1914. In 1927, a historic trial was initiated in the United States to determine whether a version of Brancusi’s Bird in Space was liable for duty as a manufactured object or as a work of art. The court decided in 1928 that the sculpture was a work of art.
In 1935, Brancusi was commissioned to create a war memorial in Târgu Jiu, Romania, for which he designed a sculptural ensemble that includes The Table of Silence, The Gate of Kiss, and a monumental Endless Column. The project embodies the concerns most essential to Brancusi’s art: the idealization of aesthetic form; the integration of architecture, sculpture, and furniture; and the poetic evocation of spiritual thought. After 1938, Brancusi continued to work in Paris. His last sculpture, a plaster Grand Coq, was completed in 1949. In the years following, he continued to adjust and refine sculptural groupings in his studio, a project that epitomized his interest in creating dynamic dialogues among various works and the spaces they inhabit. In 1955, the first retrospective of Brancusi’s work was held at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, before traveling to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Brancusi died on March 16, 1957, in Paris.
ARTWORK BY CONSTANTIN BRANCUSI

Constantin Brancusi, Adam and Eve, 1921 (Adam and Eve executed separately ca. 1916). Chestnut (Adam) and oak (Eve) on limestone base, 94 x 18 3/4 x 18 1/4 inches (238.8 x 47.6 x 46.4 cm) overall
Constantin Brancusi
Adam and Eve
Constantin Brancusi, The Miracle (Seal [I]), ca. 1930–32. Marble on limestone base, 64 1/4 (163.2 cm) high x 58 3/4 inches (149.2 cm) inches in diameter
Constantin Brancusi
The Miracle (Seal [I])
Constantin Brancusi, Bird in Space, 1932–40. Polished brass, 59 7/16 inches (151 cm) high, including base
Constantin Brancusi
Bird in Space
Constantin Brancusi, King of Kings, ca. 1938. Oak, 118 3/8 x 19 x 18 1/8 inches (300 x 48.3 x 46 cm)
Constantin Brancusi
King of Kings
Constantin Brancusi, Flying Turtle, 1940–45. Marble on limestone base, 28 1/8 x 34 3/4 x 27 1/4 inches (71.3 x 88.3 x 69 cm) overall
Constantin Brancusi
Flying Turtle
Constantin Brancusi, Portrait of George, 1911. Marble, 9 3/8 x 10 1/4 x 8 inches (23.8 x 26 x 20.3 cm)
Constantin Brancusi
Portrait of George
Constantin Brancusi, Maiastra, 1912 (?). Polished brass, 28 3/4 x 7 7/8 x 7 7/8 inches (73 x 20 x 20 cm) overall
Constantin Brancusi
Maiastra
Constantin Brancusi, Muse, 1912. Marble, 17 3/4 x 9 x 6 3/4 inches (45 x 23 x 17 cm)
Constantin Brancusi
Muse
Constantin Brancusi, Watchdog, 1916. Oak, 29 x 15 3/16 x 14 1/2 inches (73.7 x 38.6 x 36.8 cm)
Constantin Brancusi
Watchdog
Constantin Brancusi, Little French Girl (The First Step [III]), ca. 1914–18 (mounted by museum, 1953). Oak on pine base, figure: 49 x 9 3/8 x 9 1/4 inches (124.5 x 23.8 x 23.5 cm); base: 11 x 15 1/4 x 13 inches (27.9 x 38.7 x 33 cm)
Constantin Brancusi
Little French Girl (The First Step [III])
Constantin Brancusi, Oak base, 1920. Oak, 38 3/8 x 18 5/8 x 18 1/2 inches (97.5 x 47.3 x 47 cm)
Constantin Brancusi
Oak base
Constantin Brancusi, The Sorceress, 1916–24. Walnut on limestone base, 44 3/4 x 19 1/2 x 25 1/2 inches (113.7 x 49.5 x 64.8 cm) overall
Constantin Brancusi
The Sorceress

Constantin Brancusi Biography & Family History

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Birth

at Hobita, Romania,

Death

on at Paris, France,

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SCULPTOR
Soaring to New Heights: Constantin Brancusi
BY ANDRÉA FERNANDES JUNE 21, 2008

Brancusi1.jpgBrancusi2.jpg

As announced last Saturday, "Feel Art Again" is now also a Saturday feature, though our weekend posts are a little different than usual.

Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957), requested by reader Hypatia, was a Romanian sculptor whose works were often categorized as abstract"¦ a categorization that Brancusi refuted, with the argument: "The people who call my work "˜abstract' are imbeciles; what they call "˜abstract' is in fact the purest realism..." Decide for yourself as we take a look at Constantin Brancusi's life and his 1938 sculpture, "The Endless Column."

1. You could say Brancusi had a hard life. He was born to poor peasants, was bullied by his father and older brothers so much that he often ran away, began herding his family's sheep at age 7, and traveled to the closest large town at age 9 to work menial jobs. Yet to Brancusi, his life was "a succession of marvelous events."

2. Brancusi received formal training, thanks to funding from an employer, and then set out for Munich in 1903. From there, he traveled onward to Paris, supposedly traveling most of the journey on foot. While in Paris, he was invited to enter Auguste Rodin's workshop, after working two years in Antonin Mercié's workshop. But, although he admired Rodin, he left after only two months, because "nothing can grow under big trees."

3. Like many artists of the time, Brancusi lived a bohemian life with the likes of Ezra Pound, Guillaume Apollinaire, Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, and Henri Rousseau. Described as "short and lively," he enjoyed cigarettes, good wine, and the company of women, though he never acknowledged the child he had by one of those women.

4. "The Endless Column" is part of an ensemble in Targu Jiu, Romania, that commemorates the courage and sacrifice of young Romanians who fought off a German invasion in 1916. The column, 17 rhomboidal cast-iron modules stacked almost 100 feet high, is inspired by the symbolism of axis mundi and the funerary pillars of southern Romania. In the 1950s, the piece was declared a bourgeois sculpture by the communist government, but their plan to demolish it was never executed. Today, it's depicted on Targu Jiu's coat of arms.

5. Though he lived in France for more than 50 years, Brancusi only became a citizen in 1952, so that he could make his caregivers, a Romanian refugee couple, his heirs, as well as bequeath his studio to the Musée National d'Art Moderne. Part of his collection was only bequeathed on the condition that his workshop be rebuilt as it was on the day he died; the workshop was demolished shortly after his death but wasn't rebuilt for nearly 20 years.

6. Brancusi enjoyed fame during his lifetime, but it was post-mortem that he really hit the big time. First, he was elected to the Romanian Academy in 1990. Then, he set an auction price record for sculpture when his "Danaide" was sold for $18.1 million in 2002. Just three years later, though, he broke his own record when a piece from his "Bird in Space" series sold for $27.5 million on auction at Christie's.

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Timeline

1876 - In the year that Constantin Brancusi was born, on November 2nd, a giant squid - a little over 20 feet long - washed up on a beach at Thimble Tickle Bay in Newfoundland. It's still a rare occurrence since giant squid live in deep sea at 1000 to 3000 foot depth.

1883 - When he was merely 7 years old, on July 4th, the first rodeo in the world was held in Pecos, Texas - according to its citizens. In the towns of Prescott and Payson Arizona, the same claim is made. All of these were gatherings of local cowboys, showing off their skills - no matter who was first.

1909 - When he was 33 years old, the U.S. penny was changed to the Abraham Lincoln design. The Lincoln penny was so popular that it soon had to be rationed and it sold on the secondary market for a quarter. Abraham Lincoln was the first historical figure to be on a U.S. coin - which was released to commemorate his 100th birthday. This penny was also the first U.S. cent to include the words "In God We Trust.".

1918 - Constantin was 42 years old when on November 11th, an armistice was signed between the Allies and Germany, ending the fighting on the Western Front in World War I. This meant a complete defeat of Germany although Germany never formally surrendered. It took another six months of negotiations to sign an actual peace treaty between the warring parties.

1957 - In the year of Constantin Brancusi's passing, on October 4th, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I, the first man made earth-orbiting satellite - and triggered the Space Race. Sputnik I was only 23 inches in diameter and had no tracking equipment, only 4 antennas, but it had a big impact.

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Obituary

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Constantin Brancusi passed away on March 16, 1957 at Paris, France at 81 years of age. No cause of death has been listed. He was born on February 19, 1876 at Hobita, Romania. We are unaware of information about Constantin's family or relationships.

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Constantin Brâncuși
Romanian sculptor
Constantin Brâncuși was a Romanian sculptor, painter and photographer who made his career in France. Considered a pioneer of modernism, one of the most influential sculptors of the 20th-century, Brâncuși is called the patriarch of modern sculpture. Wikipedia
Born: February 19, 1876, Hobita, Romania
Died: March 16, 1957, Paris, France
On view: Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Periods: Abstract art, Expressionism, Dada, Naïve art, Futurism, Modern art, Modernism
Nationality: Romanian
Influenced by: Antonin Mercié, Dimitrie Gerota, François Pompon
Quotes
Create like a god, command like a king, work like a slave.
Architecture is inhabited sculpture.
Simplicity is not an objective in art, but one achieves simplicity despite one's self by entering into the real sense of things.
View 2+ more
Artworks
View 5+ more

Bird in Space
1923

The Kiss
1910

Sleeping Muse
1910

Mademoiselle Pogany
1913
Aug 14, 2017 · Reply

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