Constantin Brancusi

Constantin Brancusi
L’oiseau, 1923/1947
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Currently on show at the Fondation Beyeler

Constantin Brancusi
L’oiseau, 1923/1947

The Bird
Marble and limestone, 121 x 27.5 x 26.7 cm
Photo: Robert Bayer, Basel

Brancusi devoted himself over many decades to the sculpture of birds, which he presented in numerous versions and in ever new variations and materials right up to the 1940s. The bird sculpture in the Fondation’s collection was produced at a point when, strictly speaking, this Bird series had actually been concluded. Brancusi returns to the subject one more time and brings it to perfection with supreme artistic maturity. In his concentration upon the energy of the solid marble, Brancusi allows the slender sculpture to soar. What he seeks to portray is not the bird, but its flight. In order to dispel the sense of heaviness from the material, the artist has incorporated the pale, bluish-grey veins of the marble into his design. The extremely delicate lines running across the stone indicate the wings and suggest the softness of the bird, while the two serrated, ‘sawn out’ elements of the plinth seem to be what truly catapults it into the air.

Constantin Brancusi

1876, Hobita (Romania) – 1957, Paris

The Romanian sculptor and photographer moved from Bucharest to Paris in 1904, where he made friends, among others, with Amadeo Modigliani, Alexander Archipenko, Marcel Duchamp and Jean Cocteau. In 1906 he became actively involved in the Autumn Salon in Paris. After his traditionally academic beginnings, from 1907 his interest turned above all to themes from antiquity or the natural mythology of his home country. Constantin Brancusi began working in series, focusing on stone, bronze and wood as the essential elements of his oeuvre. His Endless Column, considered the consummate fusion of architecture and sculpture, established his reputation as one of the most important sculptors of the avant-garde and had considerable influence on numerous other artists and architects.

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