Constantin BrancusiConstantin Brâncuşi (February 19, 1876 - March 16, 1957) is the most famous Romanian sculptor, born in Hobiţa, Gorj, near Târgu Jiu, where he placed his masterpiece, The Infinite Column.
Brâncuşi studied art at the Şcoala de Meserii (school of arts and crafts) in Craiova from 1894 to 1898 and at the Şcoala Naţională de Arte Frumoase (national school of fine arts) in Bucharest from 1898 to 1901. Willing to further his education in Paris, he arrived there in 1904 and enrolled in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1905.
As an art student he was influenced by Auguste Rodin, but his style moved beyond naturalist representation to stylized elegant forms. Brancusi was one of the first sculptors to experiment with abstract art. His sculptures became progressively smoother and less figurative, until only the barest outline of the original subject was left.
Brâncuşi produced a series of sculptures in metal called "Bird in Space". Edward Steichen, a prominent photographer purchased one of these 'birds' and tried to bring it into the United States. Under US Customs code works of art may be imported into the country duty-free. However Customs officers refused to accept the 'bird' as a work of art and assessed a duty of $600 classifying it as a propeller blade. Subsequently a trial overturned the assessment.
Constantin Brâncuşi lived and worked from 1925 to 1957 in his workshop, located impasse Ronsin, in the 15ème arrondissement of Paris. The original workshop has disappeared and has been rebuilt near the Centre Georges Pompidou.
In the Montparnasse Cemetery can be found statues carved by Brâncuşi for a few fellow artists who committed suicide, the most famous of which is his "Le Baiser."
His works can be admired in the New York Museum of Modern Art and in the Bucharest National Art Museum (each having impresive collections of Brancusi) as well as in other major museums around the world.
Recently, a sculpture by Brâncuşi sold for US$18.1 million.