About this artwork
Trained in both folk and academic traditions, Constantin Brancusi sought his own path for sculpture around 1907. Breaking with the currents of the time, he adopted direct carving, combined different materials for single works, and simplified form in his search for his subjects’ essential characters. His works have profoundly influenced the development of twentieth-century abstraction.
More than any other theme, Brancusi’s series Bird summarizes his quest for a self-sufficient form. “All my life, I have sought to render the essence of flight,” the artist once said. He began the first of twenty-seven Bird sculptures around 1910 and completed the last in the 1940s. He called the earliest variations Maiastra, referring to a bird in Romanian folklore that leads a prince to his princess. In the Art Institute’s Golden Bird, details such as feet, a tail, and an upturned crowing beak are only suggested in an elegant, streamlined silhouette. Brâncusi perched this refined shape on a rough-hewn, geometric base, contrasting the disembodied, light-reflective surface with an earthbound mass. The central polyhedron was cut from the middle of a tree trunk, and its circles (indicating the tree’s age) rotate like a sun, as if radiating light over the bird.
- Constantin Brancusi
- Golden Bird
- Bronze, stone, and wood
- Signed underneath: "C. Brancusi"
- 217.8 × 29.9 × 29.9 cm (86 × 11 3/4 × 11 3/4 in.)
- Partial gift of The Arts Club of Chicago; purchased with funds provided by various donors; through prior bequest of Arthur Rubloff; through prior purchase with funds provided by William E. Hartmann; through prior gift of Mr. and Mrs. Carter H. Harrison, Mr. and Mrs. Arnold H. Maremont through the Kate Maremont Foundation, Woodruff J. Parker, Mrs. Clive Runnells, Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson, and various donors
- © 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris