DETAIL : COLOGNE SCHOOL Germany Virgin and Child with Saints [Triptych of the Virgin and Child with Saints (left panel) Virgin and Child with Saints (left panel)]
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Constantin BRANCUSI | L'oiseau dans l'espace [Bird in space]
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Constantin BRANCUSI
Romania 1876 – France 1957
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L'oiseau dans l'espace
[Bird in space]
black marble, white marble 'collar', sandstone base
overall 328.4 (h) x 51.4 (w) x 51.4 (d) cm
sculpture 193.3 (h) cm
collar 18.1 (h) cm 18.1 cm (diameter)
base 117.0 (h) x 51.4 (w) x 51.4 (d) cm
not signed, not dated
Purchased 1973
NGA 1973.961
© Constantin Brancusi. Licensed by ADAGP & VISCOPY, Australia
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Constantin Brancusi was born on 19 February 1876 in Hobitza, a village in the foothills of the Transylvanian Alps, Romania. He studied at the Craiova School of fine Arts and Crafts (1894-98) and at the National School of Fine Arts, Bucharest (1898-1901), before setting out for Paris on foot in the summer of 1904. In Paris he enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts (1905-06) and for a few months at the beginning of 1907 possibly worked in the studio of Auguste Rodin. During the next few years he established friendships with Henri Rousseau, Henri Matisse, Fernand Léger and Amedeo Modigliani, among others, and carved the first versions of themes such as The kiss (1907), Sleeping muse (1908) and the Maiastra (1910) that he would return to and refine throughout his career. In 1913 the 'International Exhibition of Modern Art' (the Armory Show) in New York included five of his sculptures, and in the following year he received his first solo exhibition at Alfred Stieglitz's Gallery of the Photo-Secession in New York. Americans, in particular John Quinn, Edward Steichen, Katherine S. Dreier, Mr and Mrs Eugene Meyer Jr, and Louise and Walter Conrad Arensberg, became major patrons. The Little Review issued a Brancusi number in 1921 with an appreciation by Ezra Pound, and This Quarter, published in Paris, devoted an issue to Brancusi in 1925. Brancusi travelled to New York twice in 1926 to attend the opening of his exhibitions at the Wildenstein Gallery and the Brummer Gallery. In 1927-28 he initiated a successful law suit against the United States Customs after they had refused to admit a bronze Bird in space as a work of art and thus exempt it from import duty (customs officials maintained that it was a manufactured object). In 1933 Brancusi was visited in Paris by the Maharaja of Indore and the project for a Temple of Meditation was discussed. In 1935 Brancusi was invited to design a war memorial at Tirgu Jiu in Romania, the installation of which began with his Endless column in 1937. At the end of that year he travelled to India to work on the Temple of Meditation at Indore, but the project did not materialise. He returned to Romania in 1938 to oversee the final installation of the memorial at Tirgu Jiu, and from the completion of this project until his death in Paris twenty years later, Brancusi, curiously, worked very little. He continued to live with striking simplicity in his studio in the heart of Paris at 11 Impasse Ronsin, and his reputation spread. In 1947 V.G. Paleolog's important monograph on the artist was published in Bucharest, and in 1955 he was given a large retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. In 1952 Brancusi became a French citizen and willed his studio and its contents to the French nation. He died in Paris on 16 March 1957.

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