The photographs in this and the following five lots were made by the artist Constantin Brancusi and were among other gifts presented or sent to the owner's mother over a period of years beginning in 1924.
Brancusi first documented his own work in photographs in the early years of this century, and by the early 1920s knew several of the most eminent photographers of the period, including Alfred Stieglitz, at whose "Gallery of the Photo-Secession" or "291" he held his first one-man show in 1914. In 1921 in Paris he met Man Ray, who accompanied him on a shopping trip advising on the purchase of a camera and tripod. Man Ray recommended someone who could develop and print Brancusi's negatives, but the artist preferred to do this himself taking full control of the whole photographic process. His primary purpose in photographing was to enable him to show new works to collectors and potential purchasers, such as the New York lawyer, John Quinn, who bought his first Brancusi sculpture from the exhibition at the 291 Gallery. He subsequently bought, from photographs, most of the sculptures created from then until 1924. The photographs were also used for publication in books, magazines and catalogues.
Fiercely protective of his work and of how it was represented, Brancusi followed in the tradition of other sculptors such as Auguste Rodin, who also realised the expressive power photography possessed and how this could be channelled to reveal his sculpture. Brancusi used the camera to produce series of images of the same pieces, often using a revolving turntable and dramatically changing the lighting in order to convey the sense of the three-dimensional works. A comparison between different views of the same sculptures shows how he moved pieces around the studio switching bases, supports, backgrounds and lighting to portray something of the complexity of his subject.
From about this time, in the mid 1920s, the artist became increasingly concerned with the presentation of his sculpture, especially aware of the complex spatial relationships created between the works within the studio and how this affected one's understanding of the whole. It is apparent that for Brancusi photography played a central role in this continuing exploration of his own work. From the late 1930s he produced little new sculpture, but continued to consider the display of the pieces which remained in his collection, so much so that when he bequeathed this collection to the French state it was on condition that a faithful reconstruction of the atelier and its contents be recreated for the public display of his work as it was at the time of his death.