Constantin Brancusi

Art on This Day

 

Today marks the passing away of modernist pioneer Constantin Brancusi 60 years ago in 1957. Sculptor, painter as well as a photographer, Brancusi is considered to be one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.

 

Constantin Brancusi was schooled in fine arts and moved to Paris in 1904 to continue his education. As his work evolved, he became more and more involved in the Parisian avant-garde movement. Brancusi never became an official member of the movement but was friends with fellow artists like Henri Matisse, Amedeo Mondigliani, Fernand Léger or Henri Rousseau. By the 1910s, his work crossed the ocean and gained popularity in the United States. Brancusi continued to work in Paris.

 

The idealization of aesthetic form, the integration of architecture, sculpture and furniture and the poetic evocation of spiritual thought were central ideas in all his work. He used primarily marble, stone, bronze, and metal. As these materials guided him in the making of his sculptures. The medium truly took the lead in his subjects, inspired by myth, folklore and primitive cultures. He wanted to create sculptures that conveyed the essence of the subject he wanted to depict.

 

In 1935, he was commissioned to create a war memorial in Târgu-Jiu, Romania where he spent much of his childhood. The ensembles he designed for this memorial mark the height of his career. One of those works was the monumental Endless Column, a continuation of a theme he had worked on several times before. It refers to the axis mundi and embodies the connection between heaven and earth,  a central concept in the beliefs of many traditional cultures. The piece continues on the themes of the sacred and mythical that he loved working on. Finally, the repetitiveness of the sculpture also treats the idea of infinity. The work honored the courage and sacrifice of those who died fighting for their country.

 

Brancusi’s first retrospective took place in 1955 at the Solomon R. Guggenheim museum in New York. He would die two years later in Paris and was buried at the Montparnasse Cemetery. Today, the artist is a true icon in Romania, even having his own working holiday on February 19th, the day of his birth.