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b. 1876, Hobitza, Romania; d. 1957, Paris
Constantin Brancusi was born February 19, 1876, in Hobitza, Romania. He studied art at the Scoala de Meserii (school of arts and crafts) in Craiova from 1894 to 1898 and at the Scoala Natzionala de Arte Frumoase (national school of fine arts) in Bucharest from 1898 to 1901. Eager to continue his education in Paris, Brancusi arrived there in 1904 and enrolled in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1905. The following year, his sculpture was shown at the Salon d’Automne, where he met Auguste Rodin.
Soon after 1907, Brancusi’s mature period began. The sculptor had settled in Paris but throughout these years returned frequently to Bucharest and exhibited there almost every year. In Paris, his friends included Marcel Duchamp, Fernand Léger, Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani, and Henri Rousseau. In 1913, five of Brancusi’s sculptures were included in the Armory Show in New York. Alfred Stieglitz presented the first solo show of Brancusi’s work at his gallery “291,” New York, in 1914. Brancusi was never a member of any organized artistic movement, although he associated with Francis Picabia, Tristan Tzara, and many other Dadaists in the early 1920s. In 1921, he was honored with a special issue of The Little Review. He traveled to the United States twice in 1926 to attend his solo shows at Wildenstein and at the Brummer Gallery in New York. The following year, a historic trial was initiated in the United States to determine whether Brancusi’s Bird in Space was liable for duty as a manufactured object or as a work of art. The court decided in 1928 that the sculpture was a work of art.
Brancusi traveled extensively in the 1930s, visiting India and Egypt as well as European countries. He was commissioned to create a war memorial for a park in Turgu Jiu, Romania, in 1935, and designed a complex that included gates, tables, stools, and an Endless Column. After 1939, Brancusi continued to work in Paris. His last sculpture, a plaster Grand Coq, was completed in 1949. In 1952, Brancusi became a French citizen. He died March 16, 1957, in Paris.