Constantin Brancusi

French, born Romania (Hobita, Romania, 1876 - 1957, Paris, France)

Academically trained in Romania, Brancusi emigrated to Paris in 1904 and became involved with the modernist avant-garde centered there. At times working with primitivist imagery and rough carving, he is best known for creating highly refined forms in marble and bronze.

Brancusi limited himself to a relatively small number of subjects — especially birds and women's heads — in order to explore the expressive possibilities of sculpture. He was concerned less with replicating his models than with capturing their "essence." He therefore reduced his subjects to semiabstract outlines whose ovoid shapes are both geometric and organic.

Brancusi's interest in simplified forms, pure surfaces, and the sculptural role of space and light were revived by the Minimalist sculptors of the 1960s.


From June 3, 2013, through early 2016, SFMOMA's building on Third Street in San Francisco will be temporarily closed for expansion construction. Selected artworks in our collection are included in a range of off-site exhibitions during this period. We regret that the remainder of the collection will not be available for study during this time.

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