Sunday, September 25, 2011
Brancusi - Two Archetypal Birds
Constantin Brancusi (Hobitza, 1876 - Paris, 1957) - Maiastra.
The Maiastra is a legendary bird which appears in Rumanian folklore. In peasant mythology, it guides Prince Charming through all his ordeals, helping him to combat evil spells and find his Sleeping Beauty. The Maiastra is endowed with the power to speak with a marvellous voice, to work miracles and to help man in overcoming the evil forces which bar his path to happiness (cf. Janou, p. 45).
Brancusi made his first sculpture of the Maiastra ln 1912; it was the first work of the Bird cycle which was to occupy him on and off until 1940. There are altogether at least seven versions and castings of this subject in marble and bronze, most, if not all, of which are slightly different. Compared with the earliest versions of 1912 in the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (both in white marble), the bronze version is a little more simplified and streamlined, emphasising the impression that the bird is about to take to the air. The beak is open, as if uttering a cry of triumph.
1. Maiastra, polished bronze, 1912.
2. Maiastra, polished bronze, 1915.
3. Maiastra, polished bronze, 1912.
4. Maiastra, white marble, 1915 - 1918.
Constantin Brancusi (Hobitza, 1876 - Paris, 1957) - Bird in Space.
The earliest version of the "Bird in Space" dates from 1919 and at least twenty-one more versions and castings were made between then and 1940 in bronze, marble or plaster. Most of them are slightly different. Peggy Guggenheim bought her cast direct from Brancusi, whom she had known since the early 1920s, and went to collect it just when the Germans were nearing Paris. In "Bird in Space" Brancusi sought to express both the sensation of flight through the upward sweep of the movement, and the liberation of the spirit. Writing in the catalogue of his exhibition at the Brummer Gallery, New York, in 1933, he spoke of it as a "project for a Bird which, if enlarged, would fill the sky".
5. Bird in Space, polished bronze, 1932-40.
6. Bird in Space, polished bronze, 1940.
7. Bird in Space, polished bronze, 1928?.
8. Bird in Space, black marble, 1936.