Alejandra de Argos by Elena Cué

Brancusi Atelier in Paris


Constantin Brancusi (Romania, 1876-1957) moved to Paris in 1904, where he created the majority of his work in two studios near Montparnasse. In 1956, he donated his studio and its contents to the French State, on the condition that it would be kept exactly as he'd left it after his death.

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Atelier Brancusi. Foto: Alejandra de Argos. Atelier Brancusi. Foto: Alejandra de Argos.


I'd been wanting to visit the Brancusi Atelier for years but I'd never been able to do so due to the limited opening hours (2pm to 6pm, closed on Tuesdays). Eventually I found the opportunity to visit, and without a doubt it exceeded my expectations. The Italian architect Renzo Piano was commissioned to design the space in which the studio was to be recreated, the aim being to capture the original spirit of the Atelier. For Brancusi, the exact positioning of the sculptures in the space around them was a crucial element - this is certainly something that can be appreciated when visiting, as all the sculptures seem to fit perfectly, as if they were all parts of a whole. By 1920, the studio became for Brancusi the most effective way to express the meaning of his work


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 Atelier Brancusi. Foto: Alejandra de Argos.


In order to fully understand an artwork, care must be taken in its correct positioning in an appropriate space; at the studio, I got the feeling that all the works had been displayed with great precision and harmony. This relationship between artwork and its position in space was so important to Brancusi that he would replace a sold item with a copy in plaster, in order to not upset the balance he had created.


 “Constantin Brancusi and Richard Serra” at the Fondation Beyeler,
© 2011, ProLitteris, Zurich. Photo: © 2011, Tom Fecht


I'm reminded of the exhibition in Basilea, at the Beyeler Foundation (2011). There, Richard Serra's sculptures cohabited with those by Brancusi, both encapsulating the same philosophy: the search for a purity of form towards the utmost simplicity, which for Serra was the basis of minimalism. Serra visited Brancusi's Paris studio when the Romanian artist was already quite old, and was heavily influenced by his key artistic principles, most notably the importance of finding a balance between volume and space.





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 Atelier Brancusi. Foto: Alejandra de Argos.


tumblr lmdnjdi5V41qzjl0k    The studio also includes photographs, some of them mounted upon wooden frames probably made by Brancusi himself. He took photography very seriously: he would take photos of his work as a way of documenting it, and he also had a strong relationship with Man Ray. The positioning of his work in space with appropriate lighting created a whole new way of perceiving his work.
Atelieri. Foto: Alejandra de Argos. Brancus   



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 "Noire et Blanche" 1926. Man Ray


Visiting the Atelier is essential to anyone wanting to understand the artistic principles of the artist, who was a major exponent of modern sculpture. In his beginnings, his work was influenced by Cézanne, Impressionism, and Rodin's sculptures, until he started to develop his own style towards abstraction and simplicity of form and shape, at times reminding us of primitive African and prehistoric art.


I left the studio with images of Brancusi's balanced, harmonious oval heads still in my mind...

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 Atelier Brancusi. Foto: Alejandra de Argos.



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