Endless Column restored


(Published in “Sculpture” magazine, Washington DC, No 1, 2002, p. 20-23
and reproduced in this site with the kind permission of the author)

It has been just over a year since restoration work was completed on Brancusi’s Endless Column in Targu Jiu , Romania. The project, which began in May 1996 when the World Monuments Fund listed the sculpture on its World Monuments Watch List, involved , in addition to the WMF, the Romanian Government, the World Bank, UNESCO, and Funds from the Henry Moore Foundation and numerous private donors. The restoration, “by far the simplest structure WMF has ever dealt with,” according to John Stubbs, WMF Vice President for Programs, was an unusually drawn-out affair, punctuated by a number of technical symposia. Read more »

The Endless Column of Targu Jiu

In 1934, sculptor Constantin Brancusi was asked to erect a memorial to honour the heroic deeds of Gorj people and especially the resistance of the Târgu-Jiu townsfolk during World War I. He had always wished to do something for his native Romania and he willingly accepted the commission, which he felt to be the climax of his career. In February 1935, Brancusi wrote to sculptor Milita Petrascu – a former student of his, who had advised Aretia Tatarescu, the president of the National League of Gorj Women, to apply to him: “I am like a workman’s apprentice on the eve of getting his papers. So the proposal could not fall at a better time”. Brancusi had addressed himself to a great many public projects but – with the single exception of the Târgu-Jiu sculptures – they had come to nothing. Some of his projects were rejected by the very people who had commissioned the monuments, as they were unable to grasp Brancusi’s symbolic meaning. Read more »

Historical survey of the erection of the “Endless Column”

Sculptor Constantin Brancusi erected the monumental ensemble of Târgu-Jiu in 1937-1938, to honour the memory of Gorj heroes, killed in action during the First World War. His long-nurtured dream of creating a large-scale public work was materialized in “the only sculpture of the modern era that will bear comparison with the great monuments of Egypt, Greece and the Renaissance” (William Tucker, The Hand That Changes the Forms, the Dailz Relegraph, London, 20 Julz 1973). Many large-scale projects of his are known only as ideas or sketches, either because of the patrons’reluctance to accept them or because of his own uncompromising perfectionism (Sorana Georgescu-Gorjan, Postface in Brâncusi – Templul din Indor by Stefan Georgescu-Gorjan, Bucharest, 1996, p.135-139). According to Sidney Geist, there is a final poetic justice in the fact that Brancusi’s only large-scale project came to fruition stands in his own fatherland (Sidney Geist, O coloana la sfârsit, Tribuna, nr.8, 24 Feb. 1966). Read more »

Habent sua fata columnae

The monument erected under favourable stars had to face countless hardships. There followed the War, then the communist period. The sculptor became persona non grata. Long years of imprisonment were in store for Gheorghe Tatarescu, Ioan Bujoiu, Stefan Georgescu-Gorjan. In l95o the priceless archive of the Tatarescus was destroyed.The short-hand notes of engineer Gorjan jotted down in 1937 also disappeared. In the fifties, there was attempt at pulling down the Column, with a traction force of 8800 kgf. The perfect verticalness of the monument, checked up in 1937, has been altered to a slight incline, measured in 1964 and 1984 following engineer Gorjan’s request. Fully aware of the importance of preserving the monument, engineer Gorjan worked out restoration-remetallizing projects in l965-1966 and 1975-1976. He also provided a project of major revision. Thorough investigations carried out by an INCERC team in 1983-1984, based on the documents supplied by engineer Gorjan, resulted in the conclusion that the conservation condition of the Column was fine and that only periodical metallizations are needed. Constantin Brancusi died on March 16, 1957, engineer Stefan Georgescu-Gorjan on March 5, 1985. Read more »

Finis Coronat Opus

“It is no big deal to bend it to the ground. Yet it will be difficult to straighten it again”. These prophetic words, uttered by the character Brancusi in Mircea Eliade’s play on the Endless Column, turned out to be true during the four years elapsed between the “beheading” of the monument on September 14, 1996 – the feast of the Holy Cross -and its restoration in December 2ooo. For four years the steel spine of the Column had been left unprotected, to the mercy of winds and snow, providing nesting to crows. The cast iron modules were brutally dismantled, using a sledge hammer,and cracks subsequently occurred.In the uppermost full module a big hole was drilled, liable to pose difficult problems. But for that ill-fated interference, the Column would have stood unbent for a long time. The harmful initiative of replacing the original work by a succedaneum was stopped , thanks to the Minister of Culture, Ion Caramitru. Following the advice of UNESCO experts, with the financial support of the World Bank and of the World Monument Fund, a true restoration was performed, based on a project submitted by a team of the Union of Plastic Artists. Brancusi used to state : ” My life has been a succession of marvels”. Read more »


1876, February 19 / March 2 – Hobitza, Pestisani commune, Gorj county, Romania. Birth of Constantin Brancusi to the family of the well-to-do freeholder Nicolae Brancusi and Maria, born Deaconescu.
1882 Childhood spent in the native village.
1883 Escapes from home “into the wide world”. His mother brings him back from Targu-Jiu. Primary school at Pestisani.
1884 Second form at Pestisani. Leaves school and is apprenticed to a cooper.
1885 Back to school at Bradiceni. Death of his father.
1886 Fourth form not completed. Shepherding on the Bistritza riverside.
1887 Leaves home for good. Apprenticed to a dyer (Moscu) and to a certain Doitescu in Targu-Jiu. Read more »

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