Must see: Brâncuși in Bruxelles

Brancusi Constantin (1876-1957). Paris, Centre Pompidou – MusÈe national d’art moderne – Centre de crÈation industrielle. AM1374S.

The highlight of EUROPALIA ROMANIA is the exhibition dedicated to Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957) at BOZAR, in Bruxelles. Despite being one of the greatest artists of the 20th century, Brancusi has never before been the subject of a retrospective exhibition in Belgium. EUROPALIA ROMANIA is changing this. The exhibition stated on the 2nd of October 2019 and it will last until 12th of January 2020.

For the first time, masterpieces from across the world are travelling to Brussels reveal the evolution and power of Brancusi’s work as a sculptor and photographer. Sculptures by Auguste Rodin and Medardo Rosso complete the first, chronological section. The exhibition also focuses on Brancusi’s studio, where work by his contemporaries, friends and pupils such as Amedeo Modigliani, Man Ray, Fernand Léger, Marcel Duchamp and Isamu Noguchi is presented. But the stars of the show are sculptures by the master himself. They testify to his relentless search for the essence, for sublimation.

Dance and movement also play a significant role in Brancusi’s oeuvre. EUROPALIA ROMANIA has therefore commissioned several performers and choreographers to create new works for the exhibition. These creations will be shown throughout and during the exhibition, on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. To give children and families a warm welcome, ARTS BASICS for CHILDREN will be hosting creative workshops.

Brancusi Constantin (1876-1957). Paris, Centre Pompidou – MusÈe national d’art moderne – Centre de crÈation industrielle. PH853B.

Brancusi (Hobita 1876 – Paris 1957) is one of the fathers of modern sculpture. He remains an unclassifiable artist and one of the greatest sculptors of the 20th century. The festival’s flagship exhibition, Brancusi: Sublimation of Form illustrates the uniqueness of this artist, who tried to grasp the essence of human beings and objects through the creation of pared-down forms, free of outside influence. Brancusi used his sculptures to embody the radical transformations that painting had undergone half a century earlier. His innovative work succeeded in establishing itself in an environment which had just begun to open up to modernity, inspiring several generations of artists.

The exhibition first focuses on Brancusi’s journey: born deep into the Romanian countryside, he studied at the Craiova School of Arts and Crafts and later at the Bucharest School of Fine Arts. In 1904, he arrived in Paris after journeying through Europe, to continue his training. After a brief spell in Rodin’s studio, Brancusi decided to seek out his own path, convinced that “nothing grows in the shade of tall trees.” Works by Rodin and Rosso will be presented along- side early and essential works by Brancusi, which show both the influence of these masters as well as how Brancusi freed himself from their influence.

In 1907, a pivotal year in his creative process, Brancusi decided to move away from model-based work and adopted the technique of direct carving, largely renouncing the use of models. This is when Brancusi began producing sculptures in series, working and reworking several themes simultaneously, and developing them over a period of several decades, until the result was sufficiently free from the superfluous and capable of expressing, “real things that are not the carcass of what we see, but of what is being hidden from us.”

The exhibition focuses on several series, showing the sublimation process used in the sculptor’s work. In The Beginning of the World, a realistic looking child’s head evolves into an ovoid form which borders on abstraction. A magical bird from traditional fairy tales stretches out, expressing the suggestion of flight. The embrace of a kiss is synthesised and becomes a graphic motif. The portrait of a woman is refined until it is transformed into an ambiguous form, abolishing gender boundaries.

During the 1920s, the artist’s studio, a real modern art laboratory, started drawing the attention of art collectors, museum representa- tives, and the literary and art world of the time. The studio occupies an important place in the exhibition. It highlights Brancusi’s artistic influence and places him back in this era, revealing his amicable ties with Fernand Léger, Amedeo Modigliani, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Erik Satie, and Tristan Tzara.

Photography was essential to Brancusi; his photographs are a precious guide to understanding his sculptural work. He practised photography intensively from the 1920s onwards, prohibiting
anyone but himself from photographing his work or himself. This tendency stemmed from his inherent desire for coherence and control. This aspect of his work will receive considerable attention throughout the exhibition. Brancusi was also fascinated by moving images: several fragments of his films which echo his sculptures, which, to varying degrees, integrate this notion of movement, will be shown.

But he left his one and only monumental work (made up of three elements: The Endless Column, Gate of the Kiss, and The Table of Silence) to his homeland Romania, where it was installed between 1937 and 1938 in Târgu Jiu, as a commemoration of the heroes who died during the First World War. In the exhibition, a room will be dedicated to this work, which is a synthesis of all his themes and a perfect illustration of his conception of architecture and urban planning.

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