January 2018

Brancusi was a twentieth century sculptor who rejected the teachings of renowned artist, Auguste Rodin, quoting “nothing grows in the shade of tall trees”.

Rather, Romanian born Constantin Brancusi sought to create works of art which would transcribe an emotion and spirituality rather than purely being something which was instantly recognisable. The Guggenheim in New York first started collecting pieces by the artist in 1955 and this year has curated an exhibition from its permanent collection.

The defining characteristics of Brancusi’s style is his tendency to reduce forms to their most simplistic shapes, often citing their geometrical structure. Frequently phallic like, each sculpture is evocative of spiritual thought and real experience, like a living object bursting with energy. Brancusi adopted a method of sculpture which involved the process of direct carving which arguably allowed him to translate his own experiences and energy into the single pieces of marble and stone. At the time this was revolutionary as most other sculptors were still employing the traditional method of making a model which would then be cast or executed by assistants; Brancusi’s method ensured a true sense of personality would be evoked.

Bird in Space and La Muse were defining pieces of his relatively small portfolio. Bird in Space is a prime example of how a simplified form could translate an emotion or sense of experience – its streamlined shape echoing the pent-up energy of a flock of birds soaring up into the sky. La Muse, on the other hand, depicts the head of a woman, disassociated from her body. The result is something poignant which captures the essence of the subject all whilst rendering them visible with minimal formal meaning – it is a concentrated vision of what the woman depicted stands for. Its streamline oval form recalls Indian fertility sculptures in their fusion of egg like and phallic shapes, suggesting the miracle of creation.

Photography © David Heald & via Pinterest
Guggenheim Collection: Brancusi
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
New York