Constantin Brâncuşi Personal Life
Personal lifeBrâncuşi always dressed in the simple ways the Romanian peasants did. His studio was reminiscent of the houses of the peasants from his native region: there was a big slab of rock as a table and a primitive fireplace, similar to those found in traditional houses in his native Oltenia, while the rest of the furniture was made by him out of wood. Brâncuși would cook his own food, traditional Romanian dishes, with which he would treat his guests.
Brâncuşi held a large spectrum of interests, from science to music. He was a good violinist and he would sing old Romanian folk songs, often expressing by them his feelings of homesickness. Nevertheless, he never considered moving back to his native Romania, but he did visit it eight times.
His circle of friends included artists and intellectuals in Paris such as Ezra Pound, Henri Pierre Roché, Guillaume Apollinaire, Pablo Picasso, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Henri Rousseau, and Fernand Léger. He was an old friend of Romany Marie, who was also Romanian, and referred Isamu Noguchi to her café in Greenwich Village. Although surrounded by the Parisian avant-garde, Brâncuși never lost the contact with Romania and had friends from the community of Romanian artists and intellectuals living in Paris, including Benjamin Fondane, George Enescu, Theodor Pallady, Camil Ressu, Nicolae Dărăscu, Panait Istrati, Traian Vuia, Eugène Ionesco, Emil Cioran and Paul Celan.
Brâncuşi held a particular interest in mythology, especially Romanian mythology, folk tales, and traditional art (which also had a strong influence on his works), but he became interested in African and Mediterranean art as well.
A talented handyman, he built his own phonograph, and made most of his furniture, utensils, and doorways. His worldview valued "differentiating the essential from the ephemeral," with Plato, Lao-Tzu, and Milarepa as influences. He was a saint-like idealist and near ascetic, turning his workshop into a place where visitors noted the deep spiritual atmosphere. However, particularly through the 10s and 20s, he was known as a pleasure seeker and merrymaker in his bohemian circle. He enjoyed cigarettes, good wine, and the company of women. He had one child whom he never acknowledged.
Death and legacyHe died on March 16, 1957 at the age of 81 leaving 1200 photographs and 215 sculptures. He was buried in the Cimetière du Montparnasse in Paris. Also located in that cemetery are statues carved by Brâncuşi for several fellow artists who died; the best-known of these is "Le Baiser" ("The Kiss").
His works are housed in the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the National Museum of Art of Romania (Bucharest), and the National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), as well as in other major museums around the world. The Philadelphia Museum of Art currently has the largest collection of Brâncuşi sculptures in the United States.
Brâncuşi was elected posthumously to the Romanian Academy in 1990.
In 2002, a sculpture by Brâncuşi named "Danaide" was sold for $18.1 million, the highest that a sculpture piece had ever sold for at auction. In May 2005, a piece from the "Bird in Space" series broke that record, selling for $27.5 million in a Christie's auction. In the Yves Saint Laurent/Pierre Bergé sale on February 23, 2009, another sculpture of Brâncuşi, "Madame L.R", was sold for € 29.185 million ($ 37.2 million), setting a new historical record.
Brâncuşi on his own work
Bird in Space is a series from the 1920s. One was constructed in 1925 using wood, stone, and marble (Richler 178). This one measures around seventy-two inches in height and consists of a narrow feather standing erect on a wooden base. Similar models, but made from different materials such as bronze, were also produced by Brâncuşi and placed in exhibitions.
Sleeping Muse I has different versions as well; one, from 1909-10 is made of marble and measures 6 ¾ in. in height (Adams 549). This is a model of a head, without a body, with markings to show features such as hair, nose, lips, and closed eyes. In A History of Western Art, Adams says that the sculpture has “an abstract, curvilinear quality and a smooth contour that create an impression of elegance” (549). These qualities which produce the effect can particularly be seen in the shape of the eyes and in the set of the mouth.
- Bust of a boy (1906)
- The Prayer (1907)
- La Sagesse de la Terre (1908)
- Mademoiselle Pogany (1912), Philadelphia Museum of Art
- Miss Pogany (1913) drawing, the Botarro Collection
- The Kiss. 1916, Philadelphia Museum of Art
- Madame L.R. (1914–1918)
- A Muse (1917)
- Chimera (1918)
- Eileen Lane (1922), the Botarro Collection
- Bird in Space, 1924, Philadelphia Museum of Art
- Portrait of Nancy Cunard (also called Sophisticated Young Lady) (1925–1927)
- Le Coq (1935)
- In the 1988 movie Short Circuit 2, a man walking through an outdoor exhibition speculates that the stationary Johnny 5 robot, who is also admiring the exhibit, is "an early Brâncuşi."
- In the 2000 film Mission to Mars, the "Face on Mars" is modeled after Brâncuşi's "Sleeping Muse".
Constantin Brâncuşi; Photograph taken by Edward Steichen in 1922.
|Born||February 19, 1876(1876-02-19) |
|Died||March 16, 1957(1957-03-16) (aged 81) |
|Training||École des Beaux-Arts|
|Works||Bird in Space, The Endless Column|