Museum  July 23, 2018  Megan D Robinson

“Constantin Brancusi Sculpture” Brings Iconic Works Together for First Time

© 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Photo: Imaging and Visual Resources Department, MoMA

Constantin Brancusi, Fish, 1930. Blue-gray marble on three-part marble pedestal. Acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest (by exchange).

In a new exhibition, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) showcases their collected works of Constantin Brancusi, one of the most influential sculptors of the 20th Century. The exhibition includes eleven sculptures, shown together for the first time, as well as drawings, photographs, and films, some of which Brancusi made in his studio with his friend Man Ray. Rare archival material illuminates the artist’s process and many of Brancusi’s relationships with friends, patrons, models, and museums.

© 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Constantin Brancusi, Young Bird, 1928. Bronze, on a two-part pedestal of limestone and oak. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William A. M. Burden.

Born in 1876 to an impoverished Romanian peasant family, Brancusi showed early talent at wood carving. After attending art schools in Craiova and Bucharest, he moved to France in 1904. He worked briefly with Rodin, before setting up on his own. Welcomed by the vibrant Parisian avant garde, Brancusi became a pioneer of modernism, and was friend and contemporary to Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, Man Ray, and Marcel Duchamp, among others. Unlike most sculptors at the time, who worked in clay or plaster, Brancusi carved wood or stone, or cast in bronze, fashioning striking pieces of abstraction that captured the essence of his subject. He considered the sculpture’s base as important as the work itself, constructing intricate works of art that extended and supported the original sculpture.

Proud of his peasant roots, Brancusi’s studio resembled the simple cottage he grew up in, with a rock slab for a table, and furniture he’d made himself. Influenced by mythology, Romanian folklore, and “primitive” art, Brancusi’s work is iconic, and unmistakably his. This archetypal style has influenced generations of artists, and led him to be called “the father of modern sculpture.”

© 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Constantin Brancusi, View of the Artist’s Studio, 1918. Gouache and pencil on board. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Joan and Lester Avnet Collection.

Constantin Brancusi Sculpture is on view at MoMA through February 18, 2019.

Installation view of Constantin Brancusi Sculpture
© 2018 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Denis Doorly

Installation view of Constantin Brancusi Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, July 22, 2018–February 18, 2019.

Installation view of Constantin Brancusi Sculpture
© 2018 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Denis Doorly

Installation view of Constantin Brancusi Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, July 22, 2018–February 18, 2019.

Installation view of Constantin Brancusi Sculpture
© 2018 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Denis Doorly

Installation view of Constantin Brancusi Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, July 22, 2018–February 18, 2019.

Installation view of Constantin Brancusi Sculpture
© 2018 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Denis Doorly

Installation view of Constantin Brancusi Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, July 22, 2018–February 18, 2019.

About the Author

Megan D Robinson

Megan D Robinson writes for Art & Object and the Iowa Source.