Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957)
Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957)
Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957)
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Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957)

Profil de femme au chignon

Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957)
Profil de femme au chignon
signed 'C. Brancusi' (lower right)
pencil on buff paper laid down on paper
20 ¼ x 17 in. (51.3 x 43.2 cm.)
Drawn circa 1912
Galerie Grosshennig, Dusseldorf.
Private collection, Duisberg (by 1988).
Private collection, Switzerland.
Jeffrey H. Loria & Co., Inc., New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner, September 1998.
Duisberg, Lehmbruck Museum, Constantin Brancusi: Plastiken, Zeichnungen, July-September 1976.
Post lot text
Margit Rowell has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

Lot Essay

This rare and refined work on paper by Brancusi, an artist whose non-sculptural oeuvre numbers less than two hundred, explores the gracefully restrained motif of a young woman in profile. Though celebrated primarily as a sculptor, the drawings of Brancusi impart precious insight into the artist’s practice and provide a freer platform for spontaneous creation. Departing from convention, the present work is a sublime example of the artist’s unique approach to portraiture where the subject is presented through highly stylized and simplified forms, which live in harmony with his sculpture. Brancusi’s signature, reductive technique is evident in his approach to achieving representation through essential form.
Here, Brancusi defines the sitter’s delicate and idealized facial features with one judiciously placed, unbroken line that endows the figure with a hieratic quality of timelessness. The gentle arc of her eyebrow and almond-eyes evoke an inward serenity that visually contrasts with the frenetic arcs and semicircles of her hair. The figure’s elongated neck and downward gaze forms a single smooth crescent that heightens the figure’s contemplation and draws the viewer’s eye around the composition.
Brancusi rarely created paintings or drawings in preparation for his sculptures. His approach to portraiture was described by Sidney Geist as "a sheer indulgence in beauty—the beauty of women and children on the one hand, and on the other, of the line marks and designs that the pen, pencil or crayon may produce. Brancusi's technique with these tools is frank, inventive, playful; he is alert to the subject before him, yet not constrained to dutiful representation. Brancusi's line...can be said to continue...some of the qualities of Rodin. Seen against Rodin's broad range of expression, Brancusi seems content to charm by his gentle subjects and the muted style of their rendition: the drawings are informed by the same 'pure joy' he attributed to his sculpture. If Brancusi lacks the French master's evident fire, he is himself master of a new serenity" (Brancusi: The Sculpture and Drawings, New York, 1975, pp. 31-33). A limited number of drawings from these sittings survive and may be found in institutions such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Graphische Sammlung, Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart.

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