About this artwork
Among sculptors of his generation in Europe, Constantin Brancusi was arguably the most influenced by African art in his choices of materials and forms, but it was not until the middle of his career, in the 1920s and 1930s, that he chose to represent his impression of an African subject in two related series: White Negress and Blond Negress. According to the artist, the impetus for these works was a visit to the 1922 Colonial Exposition—an expansive exhibition demonstrating France’s dominance as a colonial power held in Marseille—where he observed a woman he understood to be of African descent. The anonymous subject, rendered as an elongated volume with just two features, lips and hair, reflected European stereotypes about African physiognomy, and presented the paradox of seeing a black body represented in light-colored materials. White in the title refers to the color of the marble, which at once relates to the tradition of marble statuary but also to an ongoing 20th-century fetishism of black bodies. In the blond versions, this same form appears in highly polished, mirror-like bronze.
- Constantin Brancusi
- White Negress II
- White marble, black marble, stone, and wood
- Signed: "C. Brancusi 1928"
- sculpture: 49.5 × 14.5 × 19. cm (19 1/2 × 5 3/4 × 7 1/2 in.); black marble base: 36.9 × 36.9 × 25.4 cm (14 1/2 × 14 1/2 × 10 in.); stone base: 53.3 × 50.8 × 42 cm (21 × 20 × 16 1/2 in.); wood base: 45.1 × 43.2 × 35 cm (17 3/4 × 17 × 13 3/4 in.)
- Grant J. Pick Collection
- © 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris