(1876 – 1957), Romania

Constantin Brancusi Artworks

Constantin Brâncuși rejected the figurative and realist approaches to sculpture that dominated 19th-century Western art, and instead turned to 'primitive' and non-Western art for inspiration. The hundreds of sculptures he produced over his career, the majority of figures or birds in various levels of abstraction, are recognised as a definitive departure from pre-existing artistic styles.

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Brâncuși's Sculptures

While cast bronze was a common sculptural medium at the time, Brâncuși's works were typically cut directly from materials including marble and sandstone, drawing from the carving and woodworking skills he had learned in his formative years. This allowed for an inventive, direct approach through which the artist aimed to evoke the form of his subjects rather than portray an imitation.

Brâncuși's 'Bird in Space' series comprised numerous iterations of an abstract, elongated bird form, rendered in different materials including marble, bronze, and plaster. His first Bird in Space (1923) was carved from marble. With no defining bird-like features, such as wings, eyes, or feathers, the sculpture considers the bird's movement as its primary subject, elevated by a cylindrical, often multi-tiered base.

Brâncuși became known for the attention he paid to the pedestals upon which his sculptures rested. Rendered in marble, wood, or limestone, these pedestals were seamlessly integrated to operate as both a functional and aesthetic form. They were often used to position the sculpture at a specific height that related to what was depicted—with portraits often standing at eye-level, or birds elevated overhead.

In what is widely acknowledged to be the first instance of an artist integrating an existing sculpture into another's pedestal, Brâncuși's first bird sculpture Maiastra (1910—1912) stood on a three-tiered limestone plinth, the middle tier of which was the elongated sculpture Double Caryatid (c. 1908). The title referencing a Romanian mythical creature, Maiastra combined narrative with formal concerns and a fluidity that would define Brâncuși's oeuvre.

Drawings, Photography, and Film

Brâncuși also produced photographs and drawings, which would often serve as preparatory studies or documentation of his sculptures—as seen in photographs such as Vue d'Atelier, Adam et Coupe, Eve (1921—1922) or Endless Column (In Edward Steichen's Garden at Voulangis) (1932).

With the guidance of friend and artist Man Ray, Brâncuși also worked with film, featuring subjects ranging from recordings of himself in the studio, or of artistic influences such as light, animals, and movement.

Vue d'Atelier, Adam et Coupe, Eve by Constantin Brancusi contemporary artwork photography
Constantin Brancusi Vue d'Atelier, Adam et Coupe, Eve, 1921–1922 Gelatin silver print, printed c. 1921–1922
6 x 9 inches
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Vue d’atelier, Mlle Pogany II by Constantin Brancusi contemporary artwork photography
Constantin Brancusi Vue d’atelier, Mlle Pogany II, c. 1923 Gelatin silver print, printed c. 1923
12 x 15.5 inches
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Lis by Constantin Brancusi contemporary artwork photography
Constantin Brancusi Lis, c. 1925 Gelatin silver print, printed c. 1925
11.5 x 9 inches
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