Artist biography

Constantin Brancusi 1876-1957

Romanian-born sculptor who pioneered the extreme simplification of forms. Born in Hobitza, a village in Romania. Studied at Craiova School of Arts and Crafts and Bucharest School of Fine Arts, then set out for Paris on foot in 1903 and studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts 1905-7. Influenced by Rodin, but began in 1907 a process of drastically simplifying his figures. Most of his subsequent marble carvings and bronzes consisted of variations on a limited number of themes (heads, birds, fish, etc.) simplified almost to the point of abstraction, with smooth surfaces and an emphasis on pure basic forms such as the ovoid; his wood carvings were usually closer to African art and to the Romanian folk tradition of wood carving. His five works at the Armory Show, New York, in 1913 attracted great attention and led to his first one-man exhibition at the Photo-Secession Gallery, New York, in 1914, followed by three further US exhibitions, most of his sculptures entering American collections. Successful law suit in 1927-8 against US Customs, after they had refused to admit one of his 'Birds in Space' as a work of art. Visited Romania in 1937 and 1938 to install his 'Endless Column' at Tirgu Jiu. Died in Paris. He bequeathed his studio and its contents to the Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.70-1