Constantin Brancusi

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Brancusi, Constantin

Brancusi, Constantin (bränkyo͞oˈzē, Rom. bränˈko͞osh), 1876–1957, Romanian sculptor. Brancusi is considered one of the foremost of modern artists. In 1904 he went to Paris, where he worked under Mercié. He declined Rodin's invitation to work in his studio. Because of his radical, economic style, his abstract sculptures, The Kiss (1908), Sleeping Muse (1910), and the portrait of Mlle Pogany (1923; Musée d'Art moderne, Paris) were the subjects of much controversy. He altered his technique from modeling to carving c.1910. In 1927 Brancusi won a lawsuit against the U.S. customs authorities who attempted to value his sculpture as raw metal. The suit led to legal changes permitting the importation of abstract art free of duty. Brancusi's work is notable for its extreme simplification of form, its organic and frequently symbolic character, and its consummate craftsmanship. He had a profound understanding of materials, working primarily in metal, stone, and wood. Bird in Space (1919; Mus. of Modern Art, New York City) is a characteristic work. Others are in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City, and in the museums of Chicago, Cleveland, and Philadelphia.


See catalogs by S. Geist (1969, 1975); biographies by I. Jianu (1963), R. Varia (1986), and E. Shanes (1989); studies by S. Geist (1968) and A. T. Spear (1969).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Brancuşi, Constantin


(Rumanian, C. Brâncusj, or Brîncuşi; French, C. Brancusi). Born Feb. 21, 1876, in the village of Khobitsa, in Oltenia; died Mar. 16, 1957, in Paris. Rumanian sculptor.

Brancuşi studied in fine arts schools in Bucharest (1898-1902) and Paris (1904-07). Most of his life he worked in Paris. He made use of the expressiveness of flowing stylized contours, integrated volumes, and the textures of his materials to create simplified symbolic images (for example, The Kiss, in stone, 1908; Prometheus, marble and bronze, 1911; and the Bird in Space series, bronze, 1912-40). With time he increased the laconic nature and geometric abstractness of his forms. In a number of his works he emerges as one of the founders of the abstract principle in European sculpture. In the central industrial memorial complex of architecture and sculpture on the Street of Heroes in the city of Targu-Jiu (1937-38; Endless Column, metal; Table of Silence, stone; and Gate of the Kiss, stone), he achieved a lapidary simplicity of form, utilizing the traditions of Rumanian national art.


Tsigal’, V. “Konstantin Brankusi.” Tvorchestvo, 1968, no. 8.
Lewis, D. Constantin Brancusi. London, 1957; New York, 1958.
Hăulică, D. Brâncuşi. Bucharest, 1968.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.