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BRANCUSI, Constantin

Hobitza, Romania 1876 - Paris 1957

Adam et Eve

Adam and Eve

1921 (Adam and Eve executed separately c. 1916)

chestnut (Adam) and oak (Eve), on limestone base

free-standing abstract

Dimensions (HxWxD): overall: 94 x 18 34 x 18 14 in.

[not signed or dated]

Acc. No.: 53.1329

Credit Line: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

Photo credit: The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York


Provenance

  • 1922-1924, New York, John Quinn (1870-1924)
  • 1924-1926, Estate of John Quinn
  • 1926-1953, Paris, Henri-Pierre Roché (1879-1959)
  • 1953, from the artist

Bibliography

  • Museum's website, November 23, 2012
  • 1923
    M.M., "Constantin Brancusi: A Summary of Many Conversations", The Arts, vol. IV, July 1923, p. 18, 19, 22, 23, repr.
  • 1925
    This Quarter, vol. I, no. 1, 1925, repr. between p. 246-247
  • 1926 [Huntington]
    John Quinn 1870-1925: Collection of Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture, Huntington, N.Y., 1926, p. 27
  • 1955 Sweeney
    J.J. Sweeney, "The Brancusi Touch", Art News, vol. 54, Nov. 1955, p. 23, 24, repr.
  • 1957 Zervos
    C. Zervos, Constantin Brancusi, Paris, 1957, p. 67, repr.
  • 1959 Giedion-Welcker
    C. Giedion-Welcker, Constantin Brancusi, New York, 1959, p. 33 and pls. 81-84
  • 1959 Handbook
    A Handbook to The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Collection, New York, 1959, p. 194, repr.
  • 1963 Jianou
    L. Jianou, Brancusi, New York, 1963, p. 105 and pl. 63
  • 1968 Geist
    S. Geist, Brancusi: A Study of the Sculpture, New York, 1968, p. 61, repr., 78, 80, 222, 225, no. 105, 134
  • 1971 Michaelson
    K.J. Michaelson, "Brancusi and African Art", Artforum, vol. X, Nov. 1971, p. 76
  • 1975 Geist
    S. Geist, Brancusi: The Sculpture and Drawings, New York, 1975, p. 97, color repr., 184, 185, no. 138
  • 1975-1976 Balas
    E. Balas, "The Sculpture of Brancusi in the Light of his Rumanian Heritage", Art Journal, vol. XXXV, winter 1975-76, p. 98, 99, repr.
  • 1978 Zilczer
    J. Zilczer, "The Noble Buyer:" John Quinn, Patron of the Avant-Garde, exh. cat. Washington, D.C., 1978, p. 151
  • 1980 New York Guggenheim
    Vivian Endicott Barnett, Handbook. The Guggenheim Museum Collection, 1900-1980, New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1980, p. 204-205, no. 92, repr.
  • 1993 New York Guggenheim
    Art of this Century. The Guggenheim Museum and its Collection, New York, Guggenheim Museum Publications, 1993, p. 12-13, Fig. 10, repr.

Exhibitions

  • 1926-1927 New York/Chicago
    Brancusi, New York, Brummer Gallery, Nov. 17-Dec. 15, 1926, no. 17-18, repr., traveled to The Arts Club of Chicago, Jan. 4-18, 1927

    1952 Paris/London
    L'Oeuvre du XXe siècle, Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne, May-June, 1952, no. 117, traveled to London, Tate Gallery, July 15-Aug. 17, 1952

    1955-1956 New York/Philadelphia
    Constantin Brancusi, New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Oct. 26, 1955-Jan. 8, 1956, traveled to Philadelphia Museum of Art, Jan. 27-Feb. 26, 1956

    1959-1960 New York
    Inaugural Selection, New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Oct. 21, 1959-June 19, 1960

    1960 Venice
    Constantin Brancusi, Venice, XXX Biennale Internazionale d'Arte, June 18-Oct. 16, 1960, no. 8

    1969-1970
    Constantin Brancusi, 1876-1957: A Retrospective Exhibition, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Sept. 25-Nov. 2, 1969, p. 104-105, color repr., traveled to New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (organizer), Nov. 21, 1969-Feb. 15, 1970; The Art Institute of Chicago, Mar. 14-Apr. 26, 1970; Bucharest, Muzeul de Arta R. S. R., June 6-Aug. 20, 1970

    1977-1978 New York
    Forty Modern Masters: An Anniversary Show, New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Dec. 16, 1977-Feb. 5, 1978, no. 9

Comment

  • Text by Nancy Spector on museum's website (accessed August 20, 2020):
    The monumental oak King of Kings (Le roi des rois, 1938) was originally intended to stand in Brancusi’s Temple of Meditation, a private sanctuary commissioned in 1933 by the Maharaja Yeshwant Rao Holkar of Indore. Although never realized, the temple—conceived as a windowless chamber (save for a ceiling aperture) with interior reflecting pool, frescoes of birds, and an underground entrance—would have embodied the concerns most essential to Brancusi’s art: the idealization of aesthetic form; the integration of architecture, sculpture, and furniture; and the poetic evocation of spiritual thought.
    Wood elicited from Brancusi a tendency toward Expressionism, resulting in unique carved objects. While his sculptures executed in stone or metal represent archetypal forms, such as birds in flight and sleeping figures, individual works in wood suggest specific characters or spiritual entities. For example, King of Kings may be interpreted as Brancusi’s attempt to translate the power of Eastern religion into sculptural form. The work’s original title was Spirit of Buddha (L’esprit du Bouddha), and Brancusi is known to have been familiar with Buddhism through the writings of the Tibetan philosopher Milarepa.
    Although the extent to which Brancusi’s work was inspired by African sculpture and Romanian folk carvings has been widely debated among scholars, it is clear that he was acutely responsive to “primitivizing” influences early in his career. Paul Gauguin‘s technique of direct carving to emulate the raw quality of indigenous Tahitian art inspired Brancusi to experiment with more daring approaches to sculpture than his academic training had previously allowed. Gauguin’s aesthetic most likely prompted Brancusi to study tribal art, evident in the serrated patterns typical of African carvings on the bottom portion of Adam and Eve (Adam et Eve, 1921) as well as on the sides of King of Kings. The overt sexual references in the former work may also have been inspired by so-called primitive fetishes.
    Sculptural sources from Brancusi’s native country are also abundant: prototypes for the sequential designs of King of Kings have been found in Romanian vernacular architecture such as wooden gate posts and chiseled ornamental pillars. The Sorceress (La sorcière, 1916–24), pictured with Watchdog (Chien de garde, 1916), has been interpreted as the flying witch described in Romanian peasant tales. Brancusi never clarified the visual sources for his designs, preferring instead to promote an air of mystery surrounding the origins of his vision.