Quotes On And From Brâncuşi

"Simplicity is not an end in art, but one arrives at simplicity in spite of oneself, in approaching the real sense of things. Simplicity is at bottom complexity and one must be nourished on its essence to understand its significance."Catalog of Brâncuşi exhibition, Brummer Gallery, New York, 1926 "Beauty is absolute balance."Catalog of Brâncuşi exhibition, Brummer Gallery, New York, 1926 "What is real is not t external form, but the essence of things. Starting from this truth it is impossible for anyone to express anything essentially real by imitating its exterior surface."Catalog of Brâncuşi exhibition, Brummer Gallery, New York, 1926 "Sculpture must be lovely to touch, friendly to live with, not only well made…fancy living with Moses, by Michelangelo, even if we do admire his power! We should not be made to feel like atoms in its presence, but we should respond and vibrate to the miracles of life. What is so glorious as the privilege that man enjoys of being alive, and being able to see and discover beauty all around him!"Quoted by Malvina Hoffman, Sculpture Inside and Out (New York, W. W. Norton, 1939 "It is an attempt, he says, to solve the 'maddeningly difficult problem of getting all the forms into one form…Look at the body of a man, or of a woman. Isn't it a lovely thing? But how foolish it is to try and copy it. Is it not better for the artist to create something beautiful on his own?"Quoted by Angus Wilson, A Visit to Brâncuşi's, New York Times Book Review and Magazine, August 19, 1923 "We sympathized with what [Brâncuşi] had to say next, about the poses in which the human figure is often represented. 'They [representational sculptors] will work for years,' he said, 'learning how to represent an outstretched arm, and then the poor arm has to stay outstretched forever. You'd think it would get tired…Think of all the nude statues at this moment in the Tuileries or the Luxembourg Gardens, freezing cold, dripping rain and icicles…' 'No,' he added, 'the only true art will come from what you find inside yourself.'"Quoted by Adeline L. Atwater, New York Herald Tribune Magazine, January 12, 1930 "If one has reproduced nature realistically it is not creation. An artist must create. A reproduction of a horse in marble or bronze is a corpse of a horse. There is something more to a horse than the mere corpse, there is the essence –or what do you call it? – the spirit, perhaps."Quoted by Flora Merrill, Brâncuşi, the Sculptor of the Spirit, Would Build 'Infinite Column' in Park, New York World, October 3, 1926 "If he had the power to fulfill one ambition he would build one of his columns of infinity in Central Park, New York. 'I would like to make my column in Central Park,' he said. 'It would be greater than any building, three times higher than your obelisk in Washington, with a base correspondingly wide – sixty meters or more. It would be made of metal. In each pyramid there would be apartments and people would live there, and on the very top I would have my bird – a great bird poised on the tip of my infinite column.'"Quoted by Flora Merrill, Brâncuşi, the Sculptor of the Spirit, Would Build 'Infinite Column' in Park, New York World, October 3, 1926 "Besides…you cannot make what you want to make, but what the material permits you to make. You cannot make out of marble what you would make out of wood, or out of wood what you would make out of stone…Each material has its own life, and one cannot without punishment destroy a living material to make a dumb senseless thing. That is, we must not try to make materials speak our language, we must go with them to the point where others will understand their language."Quoted by Dorothy Dudley, Brâncuşi, Dial 82, February 1927 "It is not the work itself, it is to keep oneself in condition to do it, that is difficult."Quoted by Dorothy Dudley, Brâncuşi, Dial 82, February 1927 "I never seek to make what they call a pure or abstract form. Pureness, simplicity is never in my mind; to arrive at the real sense of things is the one aim."Quoted by Dorothy Dudley, Brâncuşi, Dial 82, February 1927 "Outside of popular unconscious art (what we would call folk art), outside of what a few individuals here and there have made, the arts have never existed by themselves. They have always been the apanage [or adjunct] of the religions. Each time we look at a religion we see that very beautiful things have been created and that afterwards decadence follows.One can't take this product of the religions as universal art. Water is always water. Yet each time it has a different quality, alkali, iron, sulphur. We must find the source of pure water so that everyone can drink.Art begins to be born. Once rid of the religions and the philosophies, art is the one thing that can save the world. Art is the plank after the shipwreck, that saves someone…"Quoted by Dorothy Dudley, Brâncuşi, Dial 82, February 1927 "When we are no longer children, we are already dead."Quoted by Dorothy Dudley, Brâncuşi, Dial 82, February 1927 "Theories are samples without value; only action counts."Quoted by Dorothy Dudley, Brâncuşi, Dial 82, February 1927 "Art must give suddenly, all at once the shock of life, the sensation of breathing."Quoted by Dorothy Dudley, Brâncuşi, Dial 82, February 1927 "If one could create as one breathes, that would be true happiness. One should arrive at that."Quoted by Alexander Liberman, The Artist in His Studio, New York, Viking, 1960 "My life has been a succession of miracles."Quoted by Carola Giedion-Welcker, Constantin Brâncuşi, New York, George Braziller, 1959 "Look at the sculptures until you see them. Those closest to God have seen them."Quoted by Carola Giedion-Welcker, Constantin Brâncuşi, New York, George Braziller, 1959 [quotes from Brâncuşi] "You needn't respect my sculptures. You must love them…" "I am neither a surrealist, nor a cubist or a baroque – nothing of the kind. I and my novelty come from times immemorial." "As I see it, a genuine shape ought to suggest infinity." "All my life I've been in search of the essence of flight." [more quotes on Brâncuşi] "As an artist, Brâncuşi has realized that sculpture lives a permanent evolution. He was tortured by passions and troubles like any other great artist. But he knew – as nobody did – to so much masterly use materials specific to sculpture such as stone and wood, to consummately feel the moves of any line, to make us love the image of a world restricted to symbols. His oeuvre has been sealed by his mighty personality. It is in his oeuvre that the mystery and miracle whereby life expresses itself seem to reside."James T. Farrell, writer, USA "Everything is absolute and everything is personal with Brâncuşi. The same as what is personal turns into the absolute, the absolute too, becomes personal. This union between existence and effort stands out as the major significance of an exemplary life."Sidney Geist, American sculptor and art critic "In fact all his efforts aimed at freeing sculpture, at drawing tight limits of its earthly domain so as to make it part of a transcendental reality. Brought back to life, it has found a novel form for itself, a matchless beauty."Carola Giedion-Welcker, art critic, Switzerland "In his sculpture I find the essence of the world which is not only the primordial cell, that is this venture of Brâncuşi accounts for the total limit between what is spiritual and what is material."Etienne Hajdu, French sculptor "Brâncuşi's art is modern as he expressed the aesthetic will of our epoch. He has given a concrete shape to his most deep-seated aspirations: the dynamism and equilibrium of bustling forces, on the one hand, the thirst for the absolute of the contemporary soul, on the other."J. Jianu, art critic, France "Brâncuşi's oeuvre seems to us to be unique in the world as there is nobody yet to outdo him."Sherman E. Lee, Curator of the Cleveland Museum of Art, USA "His fine arts sense is altogether extraordinary. The 'echo' of the volume, his 'motionless' in space, and satiety of the material used – marble, wood or bronze – are maximal. His use of bronze is a completely novel one and we see that despite the chiseled and evened surface it boasts an extraordinary resonance and denseness."Vera Mukhina, Russian sculptor "I think that the significance of Brâncuşi's oeuvre first lies in his regard for the materials used. Secondly, the Romanian artist had a pure conception about sculptural forms. He returned to the primeval and almost magic sense of the symbols rendering by his work to sculpture its whole aesthetic oneness."Herbert Read, British art critic "Each piece by Brâncuşi bears the seal of perfection and the natural, the seal of a different nature which follows that which is straightly perceptible: The Round Table, that stony table and the wooden ottomans around it prove the caution as to the place you live in and the silent, vigorous love which touches each and every work, each and every oeuvre."Rene de Solier, French writer and art critic "His all astir curiosity and the universality of his vision represent something unique in the sculpture of our century. The classical unity of humanism, of a Brâncuşi who was indifferent to the whirls of our complicated and tormented century, has managed to clear the sources of communion with nature, giving thus thousands of cosmogonal images to us."Tony Spiteris, art critic, Greece ""Brâncuşi's sculpture – a distinct sign and volume, covering not only the traces of a certain emotion springing from nature, but an independent form as well, a form born out of the creative act – this sculpture is brilliant and refined. Moving easily round the axis, it catches every light and enriches itself with all the forms surrounding it. In such a way, the work which shuns any imitation acquires an autonomous physical existence and by losing its objective form in the mass of changing shades it becomes a part of the world of nature."Bohdan Urbanowicz, art critic, Poland "The pieces of Brâncuşi look clear like the lonely stars, neither sad nor gay, living under their own light which they beam around in a vibrant way, while giving the cold cosmos that spiritual warmth and a geometry which is constant in its generous essence. This is the work of a lonely man whose individuality slowly but firmly entered meditation while embracing deeply-humane ordinary aspirations in which tenderness meets the seriousness of major questions."Ion Vlasiu, Romanian sculptor and writer "Brâncuşi is part of Romanian art not only because he realized the decorative value of the folk motif, not only because the 'magic' of Romanian folklore pervades his sculpture impressively and secretly. With Brâncuşi's art, universality means a capacity to reveal to some people belonging to diverse regions in terms of culture not an exotic, picturesque and queer universe, but a spiritual world familiar to them. Brâncuşi is a philosopher first of all, in the mere sense this notion had in ancient times… His art is an expression of a remarkable folk culture sublimating the thirst for freedom and the thirst for the absolute."Giulio Carlo ARGAN, art critic, Italy "One of the characteristic traits of Brâncuşi's art is his spirit of verticality. I think that with none of the contemporary sculptors is this spirit so evident. The feeling of everlastingness, of the absolute, which is permanent with him, has guided Brâncuşi either consciously or instinctively to verticality, to the highest degree expressed by the Endless Column."Nurullah Berk, art historian, Turkey "Brâncuşi has set himself to discover by sculpture 'the very sculpture' that is to come to what one may call the semantic specificity of sculpture."Palma BUCARELLI, art critic, Italy ""Constantin Brâncuşi has produced images due to which he is one of the greatest sculptors of any time."Jean CASSOU, French writer and art critic "Brâncuşi is still astonishing through the rather odd coordinates of his ideas and formation, through his traits of Romanian peasant which has acquired universality, through his behavior vis-à-vis the cultures he belongs to by birth, experience and spiritual affinities, through his complex artistic elements he has blended together so as to come to simplicity and essence."Petru COMARNESCU, art critic, Romania "Thanks to his outlook about the role of space and light with regard to sculpture, Brâncuşi has freed sculpture of any rule or hindrance, restoring it to nature, establishing the most perfect union and wholeness, making sculpture breathe eternity the same as nature herself does. Brâncuşi is not an artist which belongs to an epoch, he is universal."Mircea DEAC, art critic, Romania

[Quotes from Brâncuşi cited with permission of the author from Constantin Brâncuşi by Eric Shanes, Abbeville Press, New York, 1989, pp. 105-107]

by Eric Shanes