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.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Ground is hard, the Sky is far

1. On his horse, protected from the cold by a flank of felt, Abdul Wakil leads the caravan on a sandy track of Wakhan.

2. Climbing a hill: men and beasts struggling hillside.

3. In a world of endless steppe dotted with sepia spikes and black pebbles, the caravan progresses inexorably.

4. At the camp of Aq Djelga, in the evening, the Kyrgyz enclose the goats and sheeps in a stones enclosure to protect them from cold and wolves.

5. The Bactrian Camel.

6. The caravan crosses a meadow strewn with rushes.

7. As the last rays of the sun ablaze the top of Pamir mountains, camels are posted for resting.

8. The caravan advances at 4000 meters on the roof of the world.

9. Hindu Kush mountains in summer, in the province of Badakhshan.

10. At the crossroads of ancient routes from India to Persia and Bukhara in Chinese Turkestan, Tashkourgan regains its animation on Monday and Thursday, market day.

11. The only fuel of the steppe is the "camel thorn" sold in the markets of small towns in Central Asia.

12. A horseman-player "tchopendoz" quenches thirst.