Museum of Modern Art
The Museum of Modern Art is an art museum located in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, on 53rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. MoMA plays a major role in developing and collecting modernist art, is identified as one of the largest and most influential museums of modern art in the world. MoMA's collection offers an overview of modern and contemporary art, including works of architecture and design, painting, photography, illustrated books and artist's books and electronic media; the MoMA Library includes 300,000 books and exhibition catalogs, over 1,000 periodical titles, over 40,000 files of ephemera about individual artists and groups. The archives holds primary source material related to the history of contemporary art; the idea for the Museum of Modern Art was developed in 1929 by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller and two of her friends, Lillie P. Bliss and Mary Quinn Sullivan, they became known variously as "the Ladies", "the daring ladies" and "the adamantine ladies". They rented modest quarters for the new museum in the Heckscher Building at 730 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, it opened to the public on November 7, 1929, nine days after the Wall Street Crash.
Abby had invited A. Conger Goodyear, the former president of the board of trustees of the Albright Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, to become president of the new museum. Abby became treasurer. At the time, it was America's premier museum devoted to modern art, the first of its kind in Manhattan to exhibit European modernism. One of Abby's early recruits for the museum staff was the noted Japanese-American photographer Soichi Sunami, who served the museum as its official documentary photographer from 1930 until 1968. Goodyear enlisted Paul J. Frank Crowninshield to join him as founding trustees. Sachs, the associate director and curator of prints and drawings at the Fogg Museum at Harvard University, was referred to in those days as a collector of curators. Goodyear asked him to recommend a director and Sachs suggested Alfred H. Barr, Jr. a promising young protege. Under Barr's guidance, the museum's holdings expanded from an initial gift of eight prints and one drawing, its first successful loan exhibition was in November 1929, displaying paintings by Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne, Seurat.
First housed in six rooms of galleries and offices on the twelfth floor of Manhattan's Heckscher Building, on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street, the museum moved into three more temporary locations within the next ten years. Abby's husband was adamantly opposed to the museum and refused to release funds for the venture, which had to be obtained from other sources and resulted in the frequent shifts of location, he donated the land for the current site of the museum, plus other gifts over time, thus became in effect one of its greatest benefactors. During that time it initiated many more exhibitions of noted artists, such as the lone Vincent van Gogh exhibition on November 4, 1935. Containing an unprecedented sixty-six oils and fifty drawings from the Netherlands, as well as poignant excerpts from the artist's letters, it was a major public success due to Barr's arrangement of the exhibit, became "a precursor to the hold van Gogh has to this day on the contemporary imagination"; the museum gained international prominence with the hugely successful and now famous Picasso retrospective of 1939–40, held in conjunction with the Art Institute of Chicago.
In its range of presented works, it represented a significant reinterpretation of Picasso for future art scholars and historians. This was wholly masterminded by Barr, a Picasso enthusiast, the exhibition lionized Picasso as the greatest artist of the time, setting the model for all the museum's retrospectives that were to follow. Boy Leading a Horse was contested over ownership with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. In 1941, MoMA hosted the ground-breaking exhibition, Indian Art of the United States, that changed the way American Indian arts were viewed by the public and exhibited in art museums; when Abby Rockefeller's son Nelson was selected by the board of trustees to become its flamboyant president in 1939, at the age of thirty, he became the prime instigator and funder of its publicity and subsequent expansion into new headquarters on 53rd Street. His brother, David Rockefeller joined the museum's board of trustees in 1948 and took over the presidency when Nelson was elected Governor of New York in 1958.
David subsequently employed the noted architect Philip Johnson to redesign the museum garden and name it in honor of his mother, the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden. He and the Rockefeller family in general have retained a close association with the museum throughout its history, with the Rockefeller Brothers Fund funding the institution since 1947. Both David Rockefeller, Jr. and Sharon Percy Rockefeller sit on the board of trustees. In 1937, MoMA had shifted to offices and basement galleries in the Time-Life Building in Rockefeller Center, its permanent and current home, now renovated, designed in the International Style by the modernist architects Philip L. Goodwin and Edward Durell Stone, opened to the public on May 10, 1939, attended by an illustrious company of 6,000 people, with an opening address via radio from the White House by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. On April 15, 1958, a fire on the second floor destroyed an 18 foot long Monet Water Lilies painting (the current Mone
Seattle Art Museum
The Seattle Art Museum is an art museum located in Seattle, Washington. It maintains three major facilities: its main museum in downtown Seattle; the SAM collection has grown from 1,926 pieces in 1933 to nearly 25,000 as of 2008. Its original museum provided an area of 25,000 square feet. Paid staff have increased from 7 to 303, the museum library has grown from 1,400 books to 33,252. SAM traces its origins to the Seattle Fine Arts Society and the Washington Arts Association, which merged in 1917, keeping the Fine Arts Society name. In 1931 the group renamed itself as the Art Institute of Seattle; the Art Institute housed its collection in Henry House, the former home, on Capitol Hill, of the collector and founder of the Henry Art Gallery, Horace C. Henry. Richard E. Fuller, president of the Seattle Fine Arts Society, was the animating figure of SAM in its early years. During the Great Depression, he and his mother, Margaret MacTavish Fuller, donated $250,000 to build an art museum in Volunteer Park on Seattle's Capitol Hill.
The city received ownership of the building. Carl F. Gould of the architectural firm Bebb and Gould designed an Art Deco/Art Moderne building for the museum, which opened June 23, 1933; the Art Institute collection formed the core of the original SAM collection. The Art Institute was responsible for managing art activities. Fuller served as museum director into the 1970s. SAM joined with the National Council on the Arts, Richard Fuller, the Seattle Foundation to acquire and install Isamu Noguchi's sculpture Black Sun in front of the museum in Volunteer Park, it was the NEA's first commission in Seattle. In 1983–1984, the museum received a donation of half of a downtown city block, the former J. C. Penney department store on the west side of Second Avenue between Union and Pike Streets, they decided that this particular block was not a suitable site: that land was sold for private development as the Newmark Building, the museum acquired land in the next block south. On December 5, 1991, SAM reopened in a $62 million downtown facility designed by Robert Venturi.
The next year, one of Jonathan Borofsky's Hammering Man sculptures was installed outside the museum as part of Seattle City Light's One Percent for Art program. Hammering Man would have been installed in time for the museum's opening, but on September 28, 1991, as workers attempted to erect the piece, it fell, was damaged, had to be returned to the foundry for repairs. Hammering Man was used in a guerrilla art installation on Labor Day in 1993 when Jason Sprinkle and other local artists attached a 700 lb ball and chain to the leg of the sculpture. In 1994, the Volunteer Park facility reopened as the Seattle Asian Art Museum. In 2007, the Olympic Sculpture Park opened to the public. In 2017, the Seattle Asian Art Museum closed for a two year $54 million renovation and expansion project. Among the museum's notable exhibitions were a 1954 exhibition of 25 European paintings and sculptures from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. A 1959 Van Gogh exhibit drew 126,100 visitors; that same year, SAM organized a retrospective of the work of Northwest School painter Mark Tobey that traveled to four other U.
S. museums. Tobey's works and highlights of SAM's Asian collection were featured under the museum's aegis at the Century 21 Exposition. A Jacob Lawrence retrospective in 1974 honored a giant of African American art who had settled in Seattle four years earlier. Leonardo Lives featured the Codex Leicester, the last manuscript of Leonardo da Vinci in private hands, purchased by Bill Gates; as of June 2008, the SAM collection includes nearly 25,000 pieces. Among them are Alexander Calder's Eagle and Richard Serra's Wake, both at the Olympic Sculpture Park. While SAM's collections of modern and ethnic art are notable, its collection of more-traditional European painting and sculpture is quite thin, the Museum relies on traveling exhibitions rather than its own collection to fill that notable gap. There are early Italian paintings by Dalmasio Scannabecchi, Puccio di Simone, Giovanni di Paolo, Luca Di Tomme, Bartolomeo Vivarini, Paolo Uccello. There are paintings by V. Sellaer, Jan Molenaer, Emanuel De Witte, Luca Giordano, Luca Carlevaris, Armand Guillaumin, Camille Pissarro.
This museum has a large collection of Twentieth-century American paintings by Jacob Lawrence and Mark Tobey. There is an appreciable collection of Aboriginal Australian art; the museum returned a painting by Henri Matisse to the heirs of 1930s French-Jewish impressionist and post-impressionist art dealer Paul Rosenberg, looted by Nazis in World War II, after havin
Norton Simon Museum
The Norton Simon Museum is an art museum located in Pasadena, United States. It was known as the Pasadena Art Institute and the Pasadena Art Museum; the Norton Simon collections include: European paintings and tapestries. The museum contains the Norton Simon Theater which shows film programs daily, hosts lectures and dance and musical performances year-round; the museum is located along the route of the Tournament of Roses's Rose Parade, where its distinctive, brown tile-exterior can be seen in the background on TV. After receiving 400 German Expressionist pieces from collector Galka Scheyer in 1953, the Pasadena Art Institute changed its name to the Pasadena Art Museum in 1954 and occupied the Chinoiserie-style “The Grace Nicholson Treasure House of Oriental Art” building on North Los Robles Avenue until 1970; the Museum filled a void, being the only modern art museum between San Francisco and La Jolla in California at the time. It was renowned for progressive art exhibits and supported the work of local contemporary artists such as Helen Lundeberg, John McLaughlin, Sam Francis.
In 1962, curator Walter Hopps arrived from the Ferus gallery, organizing an early Pop art show in 1962 and a Marcel Duchamp retrospective in 1963, as well as solo shows of the work of Kurt Schwitters and Joseph Cornell. Hopps drew up a short list of California architects for a new museum building, including Richard Neutra, Charles Eames, John Lautner, Craig Ellwood, Thornton Ladd. Hopps insisted on a local architect because he expected a high level of interaction throughout the design process. A new Pasadena Art Museum building was completed in 1969, designed by Pasadena architects Thornton Ladd and John Kelsey of the firm Ladd + Kelsey; the distinctive and modern curvilinear exterior facade is faced in 115,000 glazed tiles, in varying rich brown tones with an undulating surface, made by renowned ceramic artisan Edith Heath. Hopps resigned. In the early 1970s, due to an ambitious schedule of exhibits and the new building project, the museum began to experience serious financial hardships. By that time industrialist Norton Simon, who had risen to become one of the pre-eminent art collectors in the world during the 1960s, was searching for a permanent location for his growing collection of over 4,000 objects.
He was first approached for financial assistance in 1971 by trustees of the museum. In 1974, the museum and Simon came to an agreement. According to the agreed five-year plan, Simon took over an $850,000 loan on the building and other financial obligations, including a $1 million accumulated operating deficit, in return for using 75% of the gallery space for his collection; the remainder was used to display the Pasadena museum's contemporary collection. A new 10-member board of trustees was formed, consisting of four members from Simon's group, three from the Pasadena museum board and three public members nominated by Simon. Simon became responsible for the collection and building projects; this move criticized by the local community as it represented the closing of the only contemporary art museum between San Francisco and La Jolla, led indirectly to the founding of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in 1979, a project driven by Norton Simon's sister Marcia Weisman. Simon died in 1993, the actress Jennifer Jones, his widow and chairwoman of the board, made corrective, conciliatory moves that have repositioned the museum and its two collections.
In 1995, the museum began a major $5 million renovation with the architect Frank Gehry, a longtime trustee of the museum. The redesign resulted in a procession of medium-size, more intimate galleries with raised ceilings and improved lighting, increased rotating exhibition space, an entire floor devoted to Asian art, restored access to the gardens; the gardens were redesigned by Power and Associates to house the 20th-century sculpture collection in an engaging setting. The new Norton Simon Theater was the final element of the renovation, designed by Gensler & Associates, is used for lectures, dance performances and concerts; the Norton Simon Museum, which comprises more than 11,000 objects, contains a significant permanent collection, regarded internationally. The museum does not own the works; as of 2014, their public filings placed the combined fair-market value of the artworks at about $2.5 billion. The museum makes little effort to expand the collection amassed by its founder, but it still receives gifts.
However, no more than 800 or 900 of those pieces are on display at any one time. The museum mounts temporary exhibitions that focus on a particular artist, an art movement or artistic period, or art, created in a specific region or country. For more than three decades after it was founded in 1975, the Norton Simon Museum maintained a no-loans policy. In 2007 the board agreed to circulate select works to museums including the National Gallery in Washington, saying it wanted the museum to become better known. In 2009, it entered into a reciprocal loan agreement with New York; the museum has a world-renowned collection of art from South Asia and Southeast Asia, with examples of this region’s sculptural and painting traditions. On display are holdings from India, Nepal, Tibet and Tha
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is an art museum located on Wilshire Boulevard in the Miracle Mile vicinity of Los Angeles. LACMA is on Museum Row, adjacent to the La Brea Tar Pits. LACMA is the largest art museum in the western United States, it attracts nearly a million visitors annually. It holds more than 150,000 works spanning the history of art from ancient times to the present. In addition to art exhibits, the museum features concert series; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art was established as a museum in 1961. Prior to this, LACMA was part of the Los Angeles Museum of History and Art, founded in 1910 in Exposition Park near the University of Southern California. Howard F. Ahmanson, Sr. Anna Bing Arnold and Bart Lytton were the first principal patrons of the museum. Ahmanson made the lead donation of $2 million, convincing the museum board that sufficient funds could be raised to establish the new museum. In 1965 the museum moved to a new Wilshire Boulevard complex as an independent, art-focused institution, the largest new museum to be built in the United States after the National Gallery of Art.
The museum, built in a style similar to Lincoln Center and the Los Angeles Music Center, consisted of three buildings: the Ahmanson Building, the Bing Center, the Lytton Gallery. The board selected LA architect William Pereira over the directors' recommendation of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for the buildings. According to a 1965 Los Angeles Times story, the total cost of the three buildings was $11.5 million. Construction began in 1963, was undertaken by the Del E. Webb Corporation. Construction was completed in early 1965. At the time, the Los Angeles Music Center and LACMA were concurrent large civic projects which vied for attention and donors in Los Angeles; when the museum opened, the buildings were surrounded by reflecting pools, but they were filled in and covered over when tar from the adjacent La Brea Tar Pits began seeping in. Money poured into LACMA during the boom years of the 1980s, a $209 million in private donations during director Earl Powell's tenure. To house its growing collections of modern and contemporary art and to provide more space for exhibitions, the museum hired the architectural firm of Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates to design its $35.3-million, 115,000-square-foot Robert O. Anderson Building for 20th-century art, which opened in 1986.
In the far-reaching expansion, museum-goers henceforth entered through the new roofed central court, nearly an acre of space bounded by the museum's four buildings. The museum's Pavilion for Japanese Art, designed by maverick architect Bruce Goff, opened in 1988, as did the B. Gerald Cantor Sculpture Garden of Rodin bronzes. In 1999, the Hancock Park Improvement Project was complete, the LACMA-adjacent park was inaugurated with a free public celebration; the $10-million renovation replaced dead trees and bare earth with picnic facilities, viewing sites for the La Brea tar pits and a 150-seat red granite amphitheater designed by artist Jackie Ferrara. In 1994, LACMA purchased the adjacent former May Company department store building, an impressive example of streamline moderne architecture designed by Albert C. Martin Sr. LACMA West increased the museum's size by 30 percent when the building opened in 1998. In 2004 LACMA's Board of Trustees unanimously approved a plan for LACMA's transformation by architect Rem Koolhaas, who had proposed razing all the current buildings and constructing an new single, tent-topped structure, estimated to cost $200 million to $300 million.
Kohlhaas edged out French architect Jean Nouvel, who would have added a major building while renovating the older facilities. The list of candidates had narrowed to five in May 2001: Koolhaas, Steven Holl, Daniel Libeskind and Thom Mayne. However, the project soon stalled. In 2004 LACMA's Board of Trustees unanimously approved plans to transform the museum, led by architect Renzo Piano; the planned transformation consisted of three phases. Phase I started in 2004 and was completed in February 2008; the renovations required demolishing the parking structure on Ogden Avenue and with it LACMA-commissioned graffiti art by street artists Margaret Kilgallen and Barry McGee. The entry pavilion is a key point in architect Renzo Piano's plan to unify LACMA's sprawling confusing layout of buildings; the BP Grand Entrance and the adjacent Broad Contemporary Art Museum comprise the $191 million first phase of the three-part expansion and renovation campaign. BCAM is named for Edy Broad, who gave $60 million to LACMA's campaign.
BCAM opened on February 2008, adding 58,000 square feet of exhibition space to the museum. In 2010 the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion opened to the public, providing the largest purpose-built lit, open-plan museum space in the world; the second phase was intended to turn the May building into new offices and galleries, designed by SPF Architects. As proposed, it would have had flexible gallery space, education space, administrative offices, a new restaurant, a gift shop and a bookstore, as well as study centers for the museum's departments of costume and textiles and prints and drawings, a roof sculpture garden with two works by James Turrell. However, construction of this phase was halted in November 2010. Phase two and three were never completed. In October 2011, LACMA entered into an agreement with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences under which the Academ
Bronze is an alloy consisting of copper with about 12–12.5% tin and with the addition of other metals and sometimes non-metals or metalloids such as arsenic, phosphorus or silicon. These additions produce a range of alloys that may be harder than copper alone, or have other useful properties, such as stiffness, ductility, or machinability; the archeological period in which bronze was the hardest metal in widespread use is known as the Bronze Age. The beginning of the Bronze Age in India and western Eurasia is conventionally dated to the mid-4th millennium BC, to the early 2nd millennium BC in China; the Bronze Age was followed by the Iron Age starting from about 1300 BC and reaching most of Eurasia by about 500 BC, although bronze continued to be much more used than it is in modern times. Because historical pieces were made of brasses and bronzes with different compositions, modern museum and scholarly descriptions of older objects use the more inclusive term "copper alloy" instead. There are two basic theories as to the origin of the word.
Romance theoryThe Romance theory holds that the word bronze was borrowed from French bronze, itself borrowed from Italian bronzo "bell metal, brass" from either, bróntion, back-formation from Byzantine Greek brontēsíon from Brentḗsion ‘Brindisi’, reputed for its bronze. Proto-Slavic theoryThe Proto-Slavic theory reflects the philological issue that in the most of Slavonic languages word "bronza" corresponds to "war metal" while at the early stages of the Bronze working it was used exclusively for military purposes; the discovery of bronze enabled people to create metal objects which were harder and more durable than possible. Bronze tools, weapons and building materials such as decorative tiles were harder and more durable than their stone and copper predecessors. Bronze was made out of copper and arsenic, forming arsenic bronze, or from or artificially mixed ores of copper and arsenic, with the earliest artifacts so far known coming from the Iranian plateau in the 5th millennium BC, it was only that tin was used, becoming the major non-copper ingredient of bronze in the late 3rd millennium BC.
Tin bronze was superior to arsenic bronze in that the alloying process could be more controlled, the resulting alloy was stronger and easier to cast. Unlike arsenic, metallic tin and fumes from tin refining are not toxic; the earliest tin-alloy bronze dates to 4500 BC in a Vinča culture site in Pločnik. Other early examples date to the late 4th millennium BC in Egypt and some ancient sites in China and Mesopotamia. Ores of copper and the far rarer tin are not found together, so serious bronze work has always involved trade. Tin sources and trade in ancient times had a major influence on the development of cultures. In Europe, a major source of tin was the British deposits of ore in Cornwall, which were traded as far as Phoenicia in the eastern Mediterranean. In many parts of the world, large hoards of bronze artifacts are found, suggesting that bronze represented a store of value and an indicator of social status. In Europe, large hoards of bronze tools socketed axes, are found, which show no signs of wear.
With Chinese ritual bronzes, which are documented in the inscriptions they carry and from other sources, the case is clear. These were made in enormous quantities for elite burials, used by the living for ritual offerings. Though bronze is harder than wrought iron, with Vickers hardness of 60–258 vs. 30–80, the Bronze Age gave way to the Iron Age after a serious disruption of the tin trade: the population migrations of around 1200–1100 BC reduced the shipping of tin around the Mediterranean and from Britain, limiting supplies and raising prices. As the art of working in iron improved, iron improved in quality; as cultures advanced from hand-wrought iron to machine-forged iron, blacksmiths learned how to make steel. Steel holds a sharper edge longer. Bronze was still used during the Iron Age, has continued in use for many purposes to the modern day. There are many different bronze alloys, but modern bronze is 88% copper and 12% tin. Alpha bronze consists of the alpha solid solution of tin in copper.
Alpha bronze alloys of 4–5% tin are used to make coins, springs and blades. Historical "bronzes" are variable in composition, as most metalworkers used whatever scrap was on hand; the proportions of this mixture suggests. The Benin Bronzes are in fact brass, the Romanesque Baptismal font at St Bartholomew's Church, Liège is described as both bronze and brass. In the Bronze Age, two forms of bronze were used: "classic bronze", about 10% tin, was used in
Constantin Brâncuși was a Romanian sculptor and photographer who made his career in France. Considered a pioneer of modernism, one of the most influential sculptors of the 20th-century, Brâncuși is called the patriarch of modern sculpture; as a child he displayed an aptitude for carving wooden farm tools. Formal studies took him first to Bucharest to Munich to the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1905 to 1907, his art emphasizes clean geometrical lines that balance forms inherent in his materials with the symbolic allusions of representational art. Brâncuși sought inspiration in non-European cultures as a source of primitive exoticism, as did Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso, André Derain and others. However, other influences emerge from Romanian folk art traceable through Byzantine and Dionysian traditions. Brâncuși grew up in the village of Hobiţa, near Târgu Jiu, close to Romania's Carpathian Mountains, an area known for its rich tradition of folk crafts woodcarving. Geometric patterns of the region are seen in his works.
His parents Nicolae and Maria Brâncuși were poor peasants who earned a meager living through back-breaking labor. He showed talent for carving objects out of wood, ran away from home to escape the bullying of his father and older brothers. At the age of nine, Brâncuși left the village to work in the nearest large town. At 11 he went into the service of a grocer in Slatina; when he was 18, Brâncuși created a violin by hand with materials. Impressed by Brâncuși's talent for carving, an industrialist entered him in the Craiova School of Arts and Crafts, where he pursued his love for woodworking, graduating with honors in 1898, he enrolled in the Bucharest School of Fine Arts, where he received academic training in sculpture. He worked hard, distinguished himself as talented. One of his earliest surviving works, under the guidance of his anatomy teacher, Dimitrie Gerota, is a masterfully rendered écorché, exhibited at the Romanian Athenaeum in 1903. Though just an anatomical study, it foreshadowed the sculptor's efforts to reveal essence rather than copy outward appearance.
In 1903, Brâncuși traveled to Munich, from there to Paris. In Paris, he was welcomed by the community of intellectuals brimming with new ideas, he worked for two years in the workshop of Antonin Mercié of the École des Beaux-Arts, was invited to enter the workshop of Auguste Rodin. Though he admired the eminent Rodin he left the Rodin studio after only two months, saying, "Nothing can grow under big trees."After leaving Rodin's workshop, Brâncuși began developing the revolutionary style for which he is known. His first commissioned work, The Prayer, was part of a gravestone memorial, it depicts a young woman crossing herself as she kneels, marks the first step toward abstracted, non-literal representation, shows his drive to depict "not the outer form but the idea, the essence of things." He began doing more carving, rather than the method popular with his contemporaries, that of modeling in clay or plaster which would be cast in metal, by 1908 he worked exclusively by carving. In the following few years he made many versions of Sleeping Muse and The Kiss, further simplifying forms to geometrical and sparse objects.
His works became popular in France and the United States. Collectors, notably John Quinn, bought his pieces, reviewers praised his works. In 1913 Brâncuși's work was displayed at both the Salon des Indépendants and the first exhibition in the U. S. of modern art, the Armory Show. In 1920, he developed a notorious reputation with the entry of Princess X in the Salon; the phallic appearance of this large, gleaming bronze piece scandalized the Salon and, despite Brâncuși's explanation that it was meant to represent the essence of womanhood, removed it from the exhibition. Princess X was revealed to be Princess Marie Bonaparte, direct descendant of the younger brother of Napoleon Bonaparte; the sculpture has been interpreted by some as symbolizing her obsession with the penis and her lifelong quest to achieve vaginal orgasm, with the help of Sigmund Freud. Around this time Brâncuși began crafting the bases for his sculptures with much care and originality because he considered them important to the works themselves.
One of his major groups of sculptures involved the Bird in Space — simple abstract shapes representing a bird in flight. The works are based on his earlier Măiastra series. In Romanian folklore the Măiastra is a beautiful golden bird who foretells the future and cures the blind. Over the following 20 years, Brâncuși made multiple versions of Bird in Space out of marble or bronze. Athena Tacha Spear's book, Brâncuși's Birds, first sorted out the 36 versions and their development, from the early Măiastra, to the Golden Bird of the late teens, to the Bird in Space, which emerged in the early 1920s and which Brâncuși developed throughout his life. One of these versions caused a major controversy in 1926, when photographer Edward Steichen purchased it and shipped it to the United States. Customs officers did not accept the Bird as a work of art and assessed customs duty on its import as an industrial item. After protracted court proceedings, this assessment was overturned, thus confirming the Bird's status as a duty-exempt work of art.
The ruling established the important principle that "art" does not have to i
Princess X is a sculptured rendering of the French princess, Marie Bonaparte, by the artist Constantin Brâncuși. Princess Bonaparte was the great-grand niece of the emperor Napoleon Bonaparte; the artist, Constantin Brâncuși, was born in Hobiţa, Romania in early 1876. The piece was created between 1915 and 1916; the sculpture was the final piece of a collection of sketches, Brâncuși worked on. The polished bronze atop a limestone block stands a little over two and a half feet tall, is being held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Brâncuși was born in a small Romanian village in 1876. At eleven years old, Brâncuși left his village and traveled through several Romanian cities, where he worked in several different crafts, he set foot in Paris in 1904, where he began sculpting and perfecting his style recognized as simplistic and abstract. According to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Brâncuși had been "at the center of two of modern arts most notorious scandals." One of the scandals was that the Salon des Indépendants, in Paris where Brâncuși practiced his trade, discontinued the display of Princess X for its apparent obscene content, as some thought it looked like a penis.
After having his art taken off display, Brâncuși was shocked. He declared the incident a misunderstanding, he had created Princess X not as a sculpture depicting a more masculine subject, but the object of feminine desire and vanity. After much accusation, Brâncuși insisted. Brâncuși discussed the comparison of the bronze figure to the princess, he described his detestation of Marie, as a "vain woman." He claimed she went as far as placing a hand mirror on the table at mealtimes, so she could gaze upon herself. The sculpture's C-like form reveals a woman looking over and gazing down, as if looking into an object; the large anchors of the sculpture resemble the "beautiful bust". Without knowing the context, to a viewer Princess X could look like an erect penis; the princess as seen shown to the right, Brâncuși allows to gaze upon herself in an eternal loop locked in the bronze sculpture. The style of Brâncuși is one that "was fueled by myths and primitive culture," this combined with the modern materials and tools Brâncuși used to sculpt, "formed a unique contrast...resulting in a distinctive kind of modernity and timelessness."
The technique Brâncuși was known for and used on Princess X could be mistaken for a penis, but in fact it was the simple form of a woman. What my art is aiming at, is above all realism; the publisher Robert McAlmon's 1925 collection of short stories Distinguished Air is set in the gay culture of 1920s Berlin. One of these stories revolves around an exhibition of Princess X, the audience's reaction to it. In 1930, the watercolour painter Charles Demuth painted Distinguished Air, based on this story. Two of the viewers, gay sailors in uniform, study the phallus-like sculpture, emphasised in the painting; the husband of a married couple, an American with the'distinguished air' of the title, is more interested in admiring one of the sailors. Brancusi, Constantin. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2004. Balas, Edith. Brâncuși and His World. Pittsburgh: Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2008. Bass, Jennifer Durham. Brâncuși, Constantin. Vol. 1. Millerton, NY: Grey House Publishing, Inc, 2007. Chave, Anna. Constantin Brâncuși: Shifting the Bases of Art.
New Haven Yale UP. Miller, Sanda. Constantin Brâncuși. London: Reaktion. Saint Barthelemy. "Princess X"