By Eric Shanes
When you see a fish, Brancusi once commented, "you do not think of its scales, do you? You think of its speed, its floating, flashing body seen through water. . . . Well, I've tried to express just that... I want just the flash of its spirit." Brancusi captured that "flash of spirit" in works of extraordinary beauty and intense simplicity. Though enjoying the pose of a canny peasant, he was, in fact, a sophisticated artist who distilled a multitude of sources into his highly complex work.
This volume in the Modern Masters series is an important and perceptive study of the sculptor Constantin Brancusi, whose arresting forms have exerted a powerful impact on the art of this century. By incisively evaluating the diverse influences that channeled into the artist's work — including his academic training and brief apprenticeship with Auguste Rodin, the folk art and architecture of his native Romania, Cubism, and African art — Eric Shanes has produced an insightful study that reveals how this complex artist achieved the expressive simplicity of his innovative sculptures. An extensive "Notes on Technique" section, illustrated with evocative views of the artist's studio, illuminates Brancusi's methods of working in all media, including photography, which he used to record his own ideas about how his sculpture should be seen. The many photographs by Brancusi are complemented by sensitive color illustrations that capture the essence of his art. Written with a clarity of prose that well serves the clarity of the sculptor's own work, this much-needed book presents the fascinating story of a profoundly influential artist.
About the Modern Masters series
With informative, enjoyable texts and over 100 illustrations — approximately 48 in full color — this innovative series offers a fresh look at the most creative and influential artists of the postwar era. The authors are highly respected art historians and critics chosen for their ability to think clearly and write well. Each handsomely designed volume presents a thorough survey of the artist's life and work, as well as statements by the artist, an illustrated chapter on technique, a chronology, lists of exhibitions and public collections, an annotated bibliography, and an index. Every art lover, from the casual museumgoer to the serious student, teacher, critic, or curator, will be eager to collect these Modern Masters. And with such a low price, they can afford to collect them all.