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The Art Story Homepage Artists Constantin Brâncuși
Constantin Brâncuși Photo

Constantin Brâncuși

French-Romanian Photographer and Sculptor

Movements and Styles: Dada, Cubism

Born: February 19, 1876 - Hobitza, Romania

Died: March 16, 1957 - Paris, France

Constantin Brâncuși Timeline

"What my work is aiming at is, above all, realism: I pursue the inner, hidden reality, the very essence of objects in their own intrinsic fundamental nature; this is my only deep preoccupation."

Constantin Brâncuși Signature

Summary of Constantin Brâncuși

Constantin Brâncuși is often regarded as the most important sculptor of the 20th century. His visionary sculptures often exemplify ideal and archetypal representations of their subject matter. Bearing laconic titles such as Fish, Princess X, and Bird in Space, his sculptures are deceptively simple, with their reduced forms aiming to reveal hidden truths. Unlike the towering figure of Auguste Rodin, for whom Brâncuși briefly assisted early in his career, Brâncuși worked directly with his materials, pioneering the technique of direct carving, rather than working with intermediaries such as plaster or clay models.

Key Ideas

Explaining that "The artist should know how to dig out the being that is within matter," Brancusi sought to create sculptures that conveyed the true essence of his subjects, be they animals, people, or objects by concentrating on highly simplified forms free from ornamentation. While many regarded his art as abstract, the artist disagreed; he insisted on the representational nature of his works, asserting that they disclosed a fundamental, often concealed, reality.
Brancusi's work was largely fueled by myths, folklore, and "primitive" cultures. These traditional, old-world sources of inspiration formed a unique contrast to the often sleek appearance of his works, resulting in a distinctive blend of modernity and timelessness.
The materials Brancusi used - primarily marble, stone, bronze, wood, and metal - guided the specific forms he produced. He paid close attention to his mediums, meticulously polishing pieces for days to achieve a gleam that suggested infinite continuity into the surrounding space - "as though they proceeded out from the mass into some perfect and complete existence."
Constantin Brâncuși Photo

The second of four children, Brâncuși was born in the small farming village of Hobitza, Romania, in 1876. He had a difficult childhood, in part due to challenging relationships with his father, a property manager of a monastery, and the children from his previous marriage. After several attempts to leave home, Brâncuși finally did so permanently in 1887, at the age of eleven.

Important Art by Constantin Brâncuși Important Art and Analysis

The below artworks are the most important by Constantin Brâncuși - that both overview the major creative periods, and highlight the greatest achievements by the artist.

The Kiss (1907-08)
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The Kiss (1907-08)

Artwork description & Analysis: Brâncuși's first version of The Kiss, marked a major departure from the emotive realism of Auguste Rodin's famous handling of the same subject. Its composition, texture, and material highlight Brâncuși's fascination with both the forms and spirituality of African, Assyrian, and Egyptian art. That attraction also led Brâncuși to craft The Kiss using direct carving, a technique that had become popular in France at the time due to an interest in "primitive" methods. These sculptures signify his shift toward simplified forms, as well as his interest in contrasting textures - both key aspects of his later work.

Limestone - Philadelphia Museum of Art

Sleeping Muse I (1909-10)
Artwork Images Google images

Sleeping Muse I (1909-10)

Artwork description & Analysis: Portraits, heads, and busts were frequent subjects for Brâncuși, and he received several commissions for such work. With Sleeping Muse I, modeled on the Baroness Renee-Irana Frachon, Brâncuși developed a distinctive form of the portrait bust, representing only its sitter's disembodied head. This work was Brâncuși's first handling of the sleeping head, a thematic cycle that occupied the artist for roughly twenty years. The smoothness of the piece, achieved by the artist's practice of polishing the surface of his sculptures until they achieved a high gleam, contrasts with the carved definition of the sitter's facial features.

Marble - Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.

Endless Column (1918)
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Endless Column (1918)

Artwork description & Analysis: Originally created in 1918, in Endless Column Brâncuși references the axis mundi, or axis of the world, a concept crucial to the beliefs of many traditional cultures embodying the connection between heaven and earth. This focus reflected Brâncuși's strong and persistent affinity for the sacred, cosmic, and mythical. Endless Column also treats another theme of Brâncuși's work, the idea of infinity, here suggested by the repetition of identical rhomboid shapes. This image shows the most famous of Brâncuși's Endless Columns, which was the version that served as the centerpiece of the tripartite sculptural memorial to fallen soldiers in World War I erected in Tirgu-Jiu, Romania in 1938.

Original Work: Oak - Museum of Modern Art, New York

More Constantin Brâncuși Artwork and Analysis:

The Sorceress (1916-24) Fish (1926) Bird in Space (1928)

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Constantin Brâncuși
Interactive chart with Constantin Brâncuși's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
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Show influences

Artists

Marcel DuchampMarcel Duchamp
Paul GauguinPaul Gauguin
Fernand LégerFernand Léger
Auguste RodinAuguste Rodin

Personal Contacts

Alfred StieglitzAlfred Stieglitz
Edward SteichenEdward Steichen
Henri RousseauHenri Rousseau

Movements

DadaDada
African ArtAfrican Art
Asian ArtAsian Art
Influences on Artist
Influences on Artist
Constantin Brâncuși
Constantin Brâncuși
Years Worked: 1907 - 1957
Influenced by Artist
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Isamu NoguchiIsamu Noguchi
Richard SerraRichard Serra
Robert MorrisRobert Morris
Donald JuddDonald Judd

Personal Contacts

Ezra PoundEzra Pound
Amedeo ModiglianiAmedeo Modigliani

Movements

Art DecoArt Deco
MinimalismMinimalism

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Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Rachel Gershman

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Rachel Gershman
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
Available from:
First published on 01 Jul 2009. Updated and modified regularly. Information
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