Saturday, February 19, 2011

Happy 135th Birthday,
Constantin Brancusi.

Check out the Google homepage today. It's a clever homage to the groundbreaking modernist sculptor Constantin Brancusi.

From Wikipedia: Brancusi was a Romanian-born sculptor who made his career in France. As a child he displayed an aptitude for carving wooden farm tools. Formal studies took him first to Bucharest, then to Munich, then to the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. His abstract style emphasizes clean geometrical lines that balance forms inherent in his materials with the symbolic allusions of representational art.

His atelier -- painted floor to ceiling to oven(!) in white -- was located here in the 15th arrondissement at 8 Impasse Ronsin, just off the rue de Vaugirard -- six blocks from our apartment.

Today at the Centre Pompidou you can visit a permanent restoration of Brancusi's studio.

Marti and I love visiting the relocated studio, which was also Brancusi's home. His life centered around this huge space; he was not one to idle with friends in cafés. If you close your eyes you can conjure up an image of Brancusi hanging here with one or more of his Parisian buddies: Pablo Picasso, Guillaume Apollinaire, Ezra Pound, Fernand Léger, Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray.

There's a marvelous anecdote about Brancusi in my favorite book about our adopted city. Dan Franck writes, When Man Ray came to his home for the first time, Brancusi asked him to teach him his art. He felt that no one besides himself would know how to photograph his work. They bought a camera, a tripod and the equipment needed for laboratory work. Brancusi built a darkroom, painted the outside white and, at a dinner at which he played the violin with Erik Satie, he showed Man Ray the results of his photographic work: blurred snapshots, pale, scratched. But the master was satisfied.