Constantin Brancusi

Biographical Information
Name

Constantin Brancusi

Birth

February 21, 1876, Hobița, Romania

Death

March 16, 1957, Paris, France

Country of Origin/Citizenship

Romanian/later French citizenship

Kind of Artist/Cultural Worker

Sculptor and photographer

Avant-Garde Movements Associated With

Fauvism, Abstract Expressionism, Modernism, Cubism

Date & Places of Overlap with Loy

Loy in Paris 1902 - 1907, 1923 – 1936
Brancusi in Paris 1904 – 1957
Loy is pictured in Brancusi’s studio in 1921 or 1923,8 Impasse Ronsin, Paris, France

Constantin Brancusi was born on February 19, 1876 in the rural village of Hobița, Romania. During childhood, he developed a love of and appreciation for nature and animals, especially birds, that he later represented in his sculptures (Miller, “Constantin Brancusi” 17). At age seven, having no formal education, he lost his father and subsequently had to work the family’s land. When he was twelve, he moved to Craiova to find work and began attending the Industrial School for Mechanical Arts, Craiova’s School of Arts and Crafts. After completing his education in 1898, he studied sculpting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bucharest, Romania.

Upon graduating in 1902, Brancusi moved to Paris, where he took classes at L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts and became the pupil of sculptor Auguste Rodin. While living in the artistic community of Montmartre, he carved The Kiss out of stone in 1907. In 1910, Brancusi began to create his series of bird sculptures which included the Magic Bird, the Golden Bird, and Bird in Space. He frequently used bronze, brass, and marble to create his sculptures but produced his first work, The First Step, in wood in 1913.  Brancusi was influenced by Egyptian and African Art. In 1916, he moved to a studio and home at 8 Impasse Ronsin, Paris, where he created and stored his work and entertained guests.

Brancusi discovered a passion for photography and often photographed his studio and sculptures. Mina Loy’s poem, “Brancusi’s Golden Bird,” was inspired by Brancusi’s photograph of his bronze sculpture, Golden Bird, which he completed in 1919. In this poem, Loy expressed immense appreciation for Brancusi’s work, referring to him as a “patient peasant God” and his sculpture as an “immaculate conception” (Loy). Loy’s poem was published in November 1922 in The Dial, on a page facing Brancusi’s photograph of his sculpture. She first encountered Brancusi’s photo of the Golden Bird in the autumn 1921 issue of The Little Review, which featured photographs of Brancusi’s sculpture and of his Parisian studio (Masteller). Loy may have also seen a version of the Golden Bird in summer 1921, at Mariette and Heyworth Mills’ home on Rue Boissonnade (Conover).

Although Brancusi resided in Paris while Loy lived there from 1904-07, their friendship began the second time Loy moved to Paris in 1923. Both were part of the same avant-garde circles, and Loy admired Brancusi’s artwork. A 1923 photograph shows Brancusi, Loy, Jane Heap, Margaret Anderson, and Tristan Tzara gathered in Brancusi’s studio at 8 Impasse Ronsin to “celebrate their reunion as the Paris branch of The Little Review” (Burke 333). Often taking Loy out to the movies, Brancusi also assisted her with her lamp shop in Paris by recommending two Romanian girls to work there (344). Their friendship extended to Loy’s daughter, Joella, as Brancusi was invited to Joella’s wedding and gifted her a brass sculpture he created (Burke 346). Brancusi remained in Paris until his death on March 16, 1957 and is buried in the Montparnasse cemetery in Paris.

Works Cited

Andreotti, Margherita. “Brancusi’s ‘Golden Bird’: A New Species of Modern Sculpture.” Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies, vol. 19, no. 2, 1993, pp. 134–203.


Burke, Carolyn. Becoming Modern: the Life of Mina Loy. Kindle Edition, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1996.


Lazevnick, Ashley. “Impossible Descriptions in Mina Loy and Constantin Brancusi’s Golden Bird.” Word and Image, vol. 29, no. 2, 2013, pp.192202., doi:10.1080/02666286.2013.787809.


Loy, Mina, and Roger L. Conover. The Lost Lunar Baedeker: Poems of Mina Loy. Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1999.


Masteller, Richard N. “Using Brancusi: Three Writers, Three Magazines, Three Versions of Modernism.” American Art, vol. 11, no. 1, 1997, pp. 46–67., http://www.jstor.org/stable/3109260.


Miller, Sanda. “Brancusi, Constantin.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University   Press. Web. 18 Sep. 2017. <http://www.oxfordartonline.com.proxy-remote.galib.uga.edu/subscriber/article/grove/art/T010887>.


Miller, Sanda. Constantin Brancusi. ebook, Reaktion Books Ltd, 2010, ebookcentral.proquest.com.proxy-remote.galib.uga.edu/lib/ugalib/reader.action?docID=618766.


Mostow, Joshua S., “Brancusi and His Poets,” Studies in 20th Century Literature: vol. 9: no. 2, article 2, 1 Jan. 1985, pp. 181–205., https://doi.org/10.4148/2334-4415.1160.


“The Artists and Their Alley, in Postwar France.” The New York Times Magazine, The New York Time Company, 8 Impasse Ronsin, Paris France, 22 Sept. 2016, www.nytimes.com/2016/09/22/t-magazine/art/impasse-ronsin-artists-montparnasse- constantin-brancusi.html?mcubz=3.


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