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Brancusi sculpts “the essence of things”
brancusi-sculpte-lessence-des-choses - ARTACTIF
June 2024 | Reading time: 22 Min | 0 Comment(s)

About the Brancusi exhibition which is being held at the Center Pompidou in Paris from March 27 to July 1.

Brancusi's sleeping muse caught my eye on the cover of Connaissance des arts magazine for the month of April. The gold color of the polished bronze suits it so well... What a calming feeling in this oval sculpture... What softness... What light... Want to sit next to it... Want to caress it delicately... Want to know more too. That's good: Guillaume Morel's article makes the Brancusi exhibition at the Center Pompidou in Paris the event of the month, and the photo of this work of art majestically reproduced on a double page, gilded on a white background, illustrates the wonderfully titled: “Brancusi in search of the perfect form”. Through the prism of the sculptor's workshop, the exhibition explores the work of Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957) from all angles in nearly one hundred and twenty sculptures and four hundred drawings, photographs, films and objects. Offering us a truly intimate look, as close as possible to the creative act. Because it’s clear: he is the inventor of modern sculpture. He revolutionized this art as much by the gesture as by the form which he simplifies to the point of abstraction, but also by his way of considering the work in interaction with its environment. But this exceptional retrospective takes the visitor to discover the poetic universe of this sculptor of Romanian origin, with, at the heart of the exhibition: the identical reconstruction of his workshop, the historical matrix of all his creation.

I warn you: works of art for sale by Brancusi are so rare on the art market that they fetch crazy prices. So if you want to buy works of art in this spirit, use the Genius tool on the ARTactif site and suggest Brancusi for your research. Absolute record for the artist: The Sophisticated Young Girl (portrait of Nancy Cunard), a polished bronze sculpture dating from 1932. It was sold for $71.1 million in 2018 by Christie's in New York. Smashing the previous record obtained with the Sleeping Muse of 1913, a work of art purchased for $57.3 million.

Sculptures, photographs, drawings and films... the “Brancusi” retrospective offers the opportunity to discover all the dimensions of the creation of this immense artist effectively considered the inventor of modern sculpture. At the same time a place of life, creation and contemplation, the artist's studio, jewel of the collection of the National Museum of Modern Art since its bequest in 1957, forms the matrix of this project. An exceptional set of sculptures, playing on the dialogue between the plasters of Atelier Brancusi and the originals in stone or bronze, loaned by numerous private and museum collections (Tate Modern, MoMA, Guggenheim, Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, Dallas Museum of Art, National Museum of Art of Romania, Craiova Art Museum…) are exceptionally brought together. The last Brancusi retrospective exhibition in France, and the only one, dates back to 1995 (curated by Margit Rowell at the Center Pompidou). A unique opportunity to discover this immense 20th century artist in a new light.

You should know that until his death in 1957, Brancusi made his Parisian studio a place for living, working and displaying his works of art for sale. Or not for sale. He actually built his own furniture and cut his own tools. In fact, his studio was a work of art in itself. Each sculpture occupied a specific place depending on the format and proportions of those around it. So, when an art collector bought a sculpture from him, he immediately replaced it with his plaster, so as not to lose any of the harmony of the place. We understand that upon his death, the artist wished to bequeath in its entirety to the French State this work of art workshop which he had occupied since 1928 at number 11 of Impasse Ronsin, on the express condition that the public can visit it. Since 1997, we have been able to stroll through L'Atelier Brancusi, its world relocated opposite the Center Pompidou, in a building by Renzo Piano. Which building must be emptied in anticipation of the renovation work on the museum institution which will begin in 2025 for a period of 5 years: the opportunity was to be seized. This move therefore made possible the exhibition event currently visible.

Obviously, since we love to rediscover what we already know, like when we were children we always asked for the same story to fall asleep to at night, we are at first spontaneously happy to see alongside the plasters, the bases, the drawings and studio photographs, Brancusi's most emblematic works: The Kiss, The Bird in Space, The Endless Column or the very erotic Princess X. As explained by curator Ariane Coulondre, curator at the museum National Museum of Modern Art, “Brancusi experienced his first successes in New York, at the Armory Show in 1913, and many of his sculptures are today in American collections. We were lucky enough to obtain the Torso of a Young Man from the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Leda from the Art Institute of Chicago, The Beginning of the World from the Dallas Museum of Art and even Mademoiselle Pogany, on loan from the MoMa in New York ".

The man who very early turned his back on the expressionism of Auguste Rodin, because “nothing grows in the shade of big trees”, he said, nevertheless briefly rubbed shoulders with the master in 1907. Brancusi the exile had arrived from Romania three years earlier at the end of an exhausting journey, extending the training he had followed at the School of Arts and Crafts in Craiova then at the School of Fine Arts in Bucharest with an apprenticeship in the The studio of sculptor Antonin Mercié at the Ecole nationale supérieure des beaux-arts in Paris. One of his first masterpieces, The Kiss, dates from 1908-1909, but he sculpted around forty versions of it until the 1940s. It was followed by The Prayer. Sculptures that are still very figurative even if they are imbued with a certain archaism. For journalist Guillaume Morel, “Young girl’s torso is a tipping point. Brancusi reduces form to the essential, an approach that will last a lifetime. “Simplicity is complexity resolved,” he said. From 1914, he experimented with wood, whose raw, primitive character he appreciated. He remembers Romanian craftsmanship and is inspired by African art, appreciated in Paris by great avant-garde figures such as Henri Matisse, Guillaume Apollinaire and Amedeo Modigliani, whom he met in 1909.

Brancusi will always proceed through experimentation, according to a principle of series, of variations which will unfold over time. “Each work seems to arise from the previous one and generate the next,” writes Guillaume Morel. Thus “The Sleeping Muse (1909) extends Le Sommeil from 1908, itself made from a first portrait by Renée-Irana Frachon. Maïastraïa (legendary bird of Romanian folklore) inspired The Golden Bird, then The Bird in Space, of which Brancusi created twenty-eight versions from 1919 to 1941. “It is not the bird that I sculpt, but flight,” he confided about this sculpture of infinite purity, a poetic metaphor for the link that unites earth and sky. Brancusi is in search of the perfect form. The oval is in his eyes. »

So I won't surprise you by telling you that the exhibition being held at the Center Pompidou until July 1st unfolds around the Atelier Brancusi reconstituted in a large... oval space.


Valibri en RoulotteArticle written by Valibri in Roulotte

Credit: Constantin Brancusi - The Sleeping Muse
(1876, Kingdom of Romania - 1957, France)

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