Constantin Brancusi Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art, July 22, 2018 – February 18, 2019

“Constantin Brancusi (1876–1957) first exhibited his sculpture in New York at the 1913 Armory Show, alongside work by Marcel Duchamp, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and other vanguard artists. The presentation of international modern art was met with fanfare, and Brancusi’s sculptures were later singled out by Vanity Fair magazine as “disturbing, so disturbing indeed that they completely altered the attitude of a great many New Yorkers towards a whole branch of art.” 

Born in rural Romania, Brancusi came to art through an immersion in craft; in his youth he learned direct carving techniques, eventually becoming a skilled woodworker. In 1904 he moved to Paris, where, like most of his peers, he made sculpture by modeling clay and casting it in bronze. He quickly abandoned this technique, choosing instead to carve his sculptures from stone and wood. With a vocabulary of simplified shapes, he created visually reductive works that evoke rather than resemble the subjects named in their titles, pushing form to the threshold of abstraction. Equally revolutionary was Brancusi’s approach to the pedestal; his bases, composed largely of geometric shapes, performed a dual function, serving simultaneously as components of the artworks and as their supports. This exhibition celebrates an artist whose risk-taking and inventive approach to sculpture resulted in work that looked like nothing else before it and changed the course of the art that followed.” — Introductory Wall Text

Constantin Brancusi. Maiastra. 1910-12. White marble, 22″ (55.9 cm) high, on three-part limestone pedestal 70″ (177.8 cm) high, of which the middle section is Double Caryatid, c. 1908. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Katherine S. Dreier Bequest. © 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Photo: Thomas Griesel

Constantin Brancusi. Mlle Pogany. version I, 1913 (after a marble of 1912). Bronze with black patina 17 1/4 x 8 1/2 x 12 1/2″ (43.8 x 21.5 x 31.7 cm), on limestone base 5 3/4 x 6 1/8 x 7 3/8″ (14.6 x 15.6 x 18.7 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest (by exchange). © 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Photo: Imaging and Visual Resources Department, MoMA

Constantin Brancusi. Endless Column. version I, 1918. Oak, 6′ 8″ x 9 7/8″ x 9 5/8″ (203.2 x 25.1 x 24.5 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Mary Sisler. © 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Photo: Thomas Griesel

Constantin Brancusi. The Cock.1924. Cherry, 47 5/8 x 18 1/4 x 5 3/4″ (121 x 46.3 x 14.6 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of LeRay W. Berdeau. © 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Constantin Brancusi. Bird in Space. 1928. Bronze, 54 x 8 1/2 x 6 1/2″ (137.2 x 21.6 x 16.5 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Given anonymously. © 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Photo: Imaging and Visual Resources Department, MoMA

Constantin Brancusi. Young Bird.1928. Bronze, 16 x 8 1/4 x 12″ (40.5 x 21 x 30.4 cm), on a two-part pedestal of limestone 9 1/4″ (23.5 cm) high, and oak 23 3/4″ (60.3 cm) high (carved by the artist), 47 5/8 x 18 1/4 x 5 3/4″ (121 x 46.3 x 14.6 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William A. M. Burden. © 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Constantin Brancusi. Fish. 1930. Blue-gray marble, 21 x 71 x 5 1/2″ (53.3 x 180.3 x 14 cm), on three-part pedestal of one marble 5 1/8″ (13 cm) high, and two limestone cylinders 13″ (33 cm) high and 11″ (27.9 cm) high x 32 1/8″ (81.5 cm) diameter at widest point. Acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest (by exchange). © 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Photo: Imaging and Visual Resources Department, MoMA

Constantin Brancusi. View of the Artist’s Studio.1918. Gouache and pencil on board, 13 x 16 1/4″ (32.8 x 41.1 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Joan and Lester Avnet Collection. © 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Constantin Brancusi Sculpture is organized by Paulina Pobocha, Associate Curator, with Mia Matthias, Curatorial Fellow, Department of Painting and Sculpture.

Title photo by Denis Doorly. Images courtesy The Museum of Modern Art.