Constantin Brancusi's Deceptively Simple Sculptures
November 12, 2013
By the early 20th century, Constantin Brancusi was the unofficial torchbearer of modernism, his works refining the complexity of human and animal forms into sleek lines and curves. When the Romanian-born artist debuted five sculptures at the New York Armory Show in 1913, the sensuality of the pieces incited both delight and derision, with the Chicago Daily Tribune dubbing his work “freak art.” But those sculptures had left an indelible mark, and Brancusi’s place on the Manhattan art scene was set. Now, an exhibition of several of his bronze sculptures at Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York demonstrate the modernist’s continued relevance today.
Among the pieces on view is La Muse Endormie (Sleeping Muse). An abstracted representation of a woman’s head, the sculpture seems to recline delicately. Though a small mouth and elongated nose are the only discernible facial features, Brancusi still manages to evoke a languid, elegant female figure. Similarly, in Le Poisson, the shape of a fish has been pared down to simple, sweeping lines. Rotating on a polished bronze disc, the sculpture captures the animal’s darting movements, surrounded by light reflected as if in water.