Constantin Brancusi: The Essence Of Things



Brancusi: The Essence of Things

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1071 Fifth Avenue, New York City
June 11–September 19, 2004

Thursday, June 10 from 10AM to 1PM

Co-organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Tate Modern, London, Brancusi: The Essence of Things is a highly selective and focused exhibition of Constantin Brancusi’s work. One of the founding figures of modern sculpture, Brancusi (1876–1957) introduced abstraction and primitivism into sculpture. Bringing together more than thirty of Brancusi’s sculptures, this exhibition will capture the essential character of his art, themes, series, and choice of materials.

Brancusi’s serene, simplified sculptures are widely acknowledged as icons of modernism. His choice of materials, including marble, limestone, bronze, and wood, and his individual expression through carving established him as a leading avant-garde artist. He was a close friend of both Amedeo Modigliani and Marcel Duchamp, and his work has inspired sculptors from Barbara Hepworth to Carl Andre and Donald Judd.

Brancusi was born in Romania in 1876 and studied in Bucharest. In 1904 he moved to Paris, where he was to spend more than fifty years and where, from the mid-1920s, he established his studio as the calm backdrop to his work. He was encouraged by Auguste Rodin but, from 1907, he began a process of simplifying his figures to the point of abstraction. Forms of great purity and balance resulted from this refinement.

The majority of this presentation focuses on works in stone and marble. Highlights include The Kiss (1907–08), the groundbreaking work in which Brancusi first achieved a balance between recognizable bodies and the integrity of the stone block. A group of sculptures of single heads shows the reduction of incidental detail that culminates in the simple ovoid, The Beginning of the World (1920).

The exhibition also presents strong examples of Brancusi’s independent wooden works—including his monumental King of Kings (early 1930s), from the Guggenheim’s in-depth holdings of Brancusi’s oeuvre—and his individually finished bronzes that introduce strands within his practice relating to direct carving, abstraction, and responses to other cultures, especially African and Romanian. These include the Tate’s polished bronze Maiastra (1912), the second of Brancusi’s Birds, one of his important and characteristic motifs.

Brancusi: The Essence of Things was conceived by Carmen Giménez, Curator of Twentieth Century Art at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and developed with Tate curator Matthew Gale.

This fully-illustrated, 144-page catalog published by Tate Publishing includes essays by Carmen Giménez, Matthew Gale, Sanda Miller, Alexandra Parigoris, and Jon Wood, as well as an illustrated chronology, a bibliography, and a selection of writings and vintage photographs by the artist. Available in softcover for $25.00. Hardcover is also available to the trade through Harry N. Abrams Publishers for $40.00.

This exhibition is sponsored by Deutsche Bank.

Additional support provided by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

HOURS: Saturday–Wednesday 10 AM–5:45 PM; Friday 10 AM–8 PM; closed Thursday
ADMISSION: $15 adults; $10 students/seniors; children under 12 free; members free

March 19, 2004
Jennifer Russo
Guggenheim Public Affairs
Tel: 212-423-3840

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