Sculptor Constantin Brancusi
(Romanian, 1876–1957) is best known for the uniquely reductive, Modernist visual vocabulary he used in sculptures to depict a wide variety of subjects, such as fish, birds, and couples kissing. Born in Hobitza, Romania, Brancusi studied art in his native country as a youth, before leaving for Paris in 1904 to continue his education at the École des Beaux-Arts. There he was invited to work with famed sculptor Auguste Rodin
(French, 1840–1917), but declined the offer and decided to work on his own, preferring to use the most reduced forms possible in his sculptures, as opposed the overtly worked exteriors of Rodin’s pieces. In both marble and wood, Brancusi devoted himself to depicting the essence of his subjects through only the most fundamental forms, using ovoid and elliptical shapes to evoke movement, repose, and spiritual qualities. During his mature career Brancusi befriended several of the leading avant-garde artists living in Paris at the time, and began to exhibit his work in Paris, Bucharest, and New York—most famously in the controversial 1913 Armory Show at artist and dealer Alfred Stieglitz
’s gallery, 291. In addition to working with marble, Brancusi created several works in wood, which often took the form of specific personages, unlike his marble works. Later in life he traveled throughout Europe, India, and Asia before returning to Paris, where he continued to work until his death in 1957. Brancusi’s work is in the collections of major institutions around the world, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Art Museum of Chicago, the Tate Modern in London, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the Museu de Arte Moderna in Rio di Janeiro.