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Sleeping Muse, 1910

   
       
 

Constantin Brancusi

   
 

Ab Ovo!

   

 

  

 

Brancusi's best work has a certain purity of line, a serenity, that is not the simplicity of minimalism, but is instead thought concentrated and reduced to abstraction.  As if he gathered the very essence of something and then removed everything else but the thin line that expressed this essence. And always, in creation of line and form, a heightened consciousness of beauty.

There is the recurring serene ovoid shape that one sees in works such as Mademoiselle Pogany (1913) and Sleeping Muse (1910).  The face curving gently to the triangle of chin is a shape that has something archetypal in its classical beauty, seen even in the ancient heads of the royal women of Amarna.  Brancusi borrowed not only from African art but also from Romanian masks and the work of his friend Amedeo Modigliani.  In both these sculptures the egg shape is a move towards a purer line, an impulse to reduce to the heart of things.  There are four known variations on the Sleeping Muse theme - Brancusi left behind a very small number of sculptures and he kept refining certain forms, certain images, certain themes. 

Brancusi moved as a young man to Paris from Romania to study and even worked briefly in the studio of Rodin.  Like Picasso in the realm of painting, he was instrumental in the move in sculpture towards a more abstract vocabulary and away from the representational tradition that had held sway.  Paul Gauguin, influenced by Tahitian art, began to use direct carving, and it is thought that this inspired Brancusi in his own studies of tribal art.  Brancusi's Adam and Eve (1916), made of chestnut and oak, has carved and serrated wooden forms that recall African sculpture and Native American totem poles. 

The bird was another archetypal image that he kept returning to and refining.  Bird in Space and Golden Bird are two series where he played with the idea of flight, of streamlined form.  The attempt here was to capture the very essence of flight with the solidity of brass or marble.  A seemingly impossible task but then the answer to Brancusi was reductionism. Ab ovo!

 

Discover: Constantin Brancusi 1876-1957, Bach, Rowell, & Temkin

 

Tags: paris  art   design  sculpture

 

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Adam and Eve, 1916

 

 

       
 

 
       
     

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