Biography of Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957)

Constantin Brancusi.

Romanian sculptor born in Hobitza (Romania) on February 19, 1876 and died in Paris on March 16, 1957. He was one of the great innovators and creators of modern sculpture.

Between 1894 and 1898 he studied at Cracow, in the school of arts crafts, where he specialized in sculpture and graduated with honors. From 1898 to 1901 he studied in Bucharest, at the school of fine arts. In 1903 he left Bucharest and traveled through Europe. He arrived in Paris in 1904 and the following year, he joined the school of fine arts. Portrait of Nicolae Darascu (1906) and torment, where can be seen the influence of Rodin, who met in 1906, on the occasion of his participation in the show of autumn and in whose Studio he worked for some time date from this time.

In 1907 he began his artistic maturity. He left the school of fine arts and was commissioned to do a mausoleum to Petre Stanescu, fruit of their frequent contacts with their country of origin. The figures are bronze and are modeled in ways bold and simple, showing a withdrawal from Rodin and the tradition. In this year he made the Kiss, as answer to the famous part of Rodin; It is an antithesis of this and she already develops its own language. The work is carved directly, block-shaped. This piece, the first of six versions, marked the change of course of Brancusi. In Paris he frequented to Modigliani (who teaches sculpting), L├ęger, Matisse, Duchamp and Rousseau.

Kiss (Constantin Brancusi).

In the following three years he experimented with primitivist styles as well as his contemporaries Picasso, Derain and Epstein. In 1913 he exhibited five pieces in the Armory Show in New York and the following year made his first individual exhibition in the Gallery of Alfred Stieglitz. He met his protector and greatest collector, lawyer John Quinn.

The war did not affect him, because of their nationality, and stayed in Paris, working normally. Although Brancusi was never a member of any artistic movement organized in the 1920s he frequented and many other Dadaists Tristan Tzara, Picabiaand Duchamp . His fame was consolidated in recent years and, in 1921, The Little Review devotes a special issue.

For these years Brancusi had developed their images in bronze and marble. At first they appear abstract and very simple, geometric and symmetrical, but in fact are always representations, and their forms are allusive and subtle. As Brancusi said: "there are morons who say that my work is abstract; "that which they call abstract is the most realistic, because what is real is not the outside but the idea, the essence of things".

Bust in bronze (Constantin Brancusi).

In 1920 Princess X was taken from the Salon des ind├ępendants, because his shapes seemed undeniably phallic. In 1926 the American customs declared that bird in space, a piece of polished bronze, was not a work of art but an object manufactured abroad and, therefore, subject to the payment of a fee. In 1928, however, the judges sentenced that it was a work of art.

In parallel to these works, Brancusi developed, from 1913, important work in carved wood. The image of these is quite different: his wood carvings are primitivist and refer to tribal art. Sometimes it also created wood soft shapes, as in marble or bronze; It is the case of Torso of a youth (1922), Gallo (1924) or portrait of Nancy Cunard (1928).

Caryatid (Constantin Brancusi).

The theme of Brancusi in the subsequent years is based on the same grounds that had already developed except some new images, such as Animal night (1930), the gull (1936) and turtle (1941). These are due to his imagination took a new direction during the 1930s, as a result of his travels in Europe and, more significantly, by Egypt and La India. He became interested in Eastern mysticism and, therefore, the maharajah of Indore, that it had bought you three versions of bird in space, he proposed to design a temple of meditation that was never built. However, if another big took place commissioned, the monument to the heroes of the first World War (1934) in Tirgu Jiu, the city where Brancusi spent his adolescence.

In 1937, he executed three monuments that were so architectural sculptural, designed for spiritual and aesthetic contemplation. The infinite column is a rosary rigid rhomboid prisms of 32 meters high, while the table of silence is like a giant millstone on the grass surrounded by twelve stone stelae. The kiss gate consists of two monolithic columns of rectangular section and the lintel is a development of his 1907 work, Kiss. Now stylized as if it were a hieroglyph, converted into a symbol of fusion of opposites, a union of transcended sexuality, where the male and female are equal parts of a universe. It is the antithesis of the gate of hell by Rodin. It is, therefore, the antithesis of the gate of hell by Rodin.

From 1939 he worked only in Paris. His last sculpture is dated in 1949 (big cock). In 1952 he acquired French nationality.

He died in Paris on March 16, 1957, after having bequeathed his Studio and the works containing the national heritage of France.

In May 2005 his sculpture L'oiseau dans l'espace reached record of 21 million euros in an auction at Christie's of New York House, which became the most expensive sculptor of history to Brancusi.


FLINT, Lucy-the Collezione Peggy Guggenheim (New York: 1983).

E. ELSE, Albert-Origins of Modern Sculpture: Pioneers and Premises (New York: Braziller, 1974).