• Photographs: The Evening Sale auction at Christies

    Sale 12203

    Photographs: The Evening Sale

    4 October 2016, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 3

    Constantin Brâncuși (1876–1957)

    Golden Bird, c. 1920

    Estimate

    Constantin Brâncuși (1876–1957)
    Golden Bird, c. 1920
    gelatin silver print
    credited, titled and dated on affixed gallery label (frame backing board)
    image/sheet: 9 1/8 x 6 3/8 in. (23.1 x 16.2 cm.)


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    It is well-known that some of the earliest supporters of Brâncuși's work were photographers. His first one-man exhibition at Stieglitz’s Photo-Secession Gallery in New York in 1914 was coordinated by Edward Steichen, a willing and able liaison between Paris and New York. Brâncuși's earliest photographs of his sculpture were taken around 1905, and by the 1920s a full-fledged documentation began. Printed in a makeshift darkroom built by Brâncuși in the corner of his studio, the prints all bear distinct marks of their maker. Brâncuși's photographs are a portal to see through the great master’s own eyes, to imbibe his vision, his love and care for his totemic work and the womb-like studio space where he labored to create them.

    The original owner of this photograph of the bronze sculpture, Golden Bird, was famed poet, playwright, novelist, artist and actress, Mina Loy. Loy's daughter, Joella Haweis, who inherited the work, herself a noted member of the avant-garde art community. Haweis was married to the prominent art dealer, Julien Levy, when he founded his revered Surrealism and photography-focused gallery in 1931. Following their divorce in 1942, Haweis married fellow Bauhaus artist Herbert Bayer in 1944. Later, the San Francisco Bay area-based author, art conservator, curator and artist Richard Lorenz came to own this work.

    Other prints of this image reside in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

    Provenance

    The Collection of Mina Loy (1882–1966);
    by descent to Joella Bayer, daughter of the above (1906–1981);
    Richard Lorenz (1952–2001);
    Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, California.


    Literature

    Exhibition catalogue, The Kiss of Apollo: Photography and Sculpture, 1845 to the Present, Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, 1991, p. 20.
    Friedrich Teja Bach, Brancusi: Photo Reflexion, Didier Imbert Fine Art, Paris, 1991, ill. 4, p. 12.