b. Romania 1876
d. Paris 1957
Constantin Brâncusi, considered one of the most influential sculptors of the 20th century, was a pioneer of modernism. As a sculptor, painter and photographer who made his career in France, his work emphasizes clean geometrical lines that balance forms inherent in his materials with the symbolic allusions of representational art. Seminal modern sculptor Constantin Brancusi created metal castings and carvings in stone and wood that, unadorned and reduced in form, fulfilled his famous principle: “What is real is not the appearance, but the idea, the essence of things.” After moving to Paris from his native Romania, Brancusi was invited to study in Auguste Rodin’s workshop, but left after two months with the explanation that, “Nothing can grow under big trees.” Brancusi’s signature style is graceful in its simplicity, as with his iconic The Kiss (1907-1910) and Bird (1940); he would return to these and other motifs throughout his career, centered on primordial, biomorphic forms. Brancusi was influenced by art and folklore of Cycladic, African, and Romanian cultures, and he inspired numerous sculptors to focus on fundamental concerns of form and space, including Richard Serra and Isamu Noguchi, the latter serving as his studio assistant in 1927. Today, Brancusi’s works are held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, and the Tate Modern in London, among others.