CONSTANTIN BRANCUSI

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.
1888 Leaves Doitescu and stays with half-brother, Ion, at Pestisani.
1889 Goes to Craiova. Works for Troceanu and Ion Gheorghiu.
1890 Works for Ion Gheorghiu and Petre Runcan.
1891 Works in Ioan Zamfirescu’s pub and grocery store.
1892 Goes to Slatina and works for Mrs Staiculescu.
1893 Leaves Slatina for Bucharest and Pitesti. Back to Craiova to Ioan Zamfirescu. Stays in Ion Georgescu-Gorjan’s house. His skill in carving wood and his proficiency in making a violin from a wooden packing crate amaze his employer and his friends.
1894 –1897 Enters the Craiova School of Arts and Crafts (sculpture department) and works diligently. In the summer of 1896 travels to Vienna and works in a furniture factory. Does the portrait of the school founder, late Gheorghe Chitu.
1898 Is graduated with honours ( Certificate no 145). Enrolls at the National School of Fine Arts in Bucharest. The portrait of Gheorghe Chitu is exhibited in Craiova. Receives “honorable mention” for Vitellius, a “bust after the antique”. Earns a living washing dishes at the Oswald cafe.
1899 Receives an increased grant from the trustees of the Madona Dudu Church of Craiova.
1900 Wins bronze medals for Laokoons Head and Character Study.
1901 Bronze medal for Ecorche, a flayed study done under the guidance of professor Dimitrie Gerota. Silver medal for Study after nature.
1902 Receives his Fine Arts degree. Short-term conscription at the “26 Rovine” regiment in Craiova. Housed by Ion Georgescu-Gorjan, does his plaster portrait.
1903 Does the plaster portrait of General Doctor Carol Davila. The Ecorche is displayed in the Romanian Athenaeum. Plaster casts are made for medical schools.
1904 Leaves Romania by way of Budapest, Vienna, Munich, Rohrschach, Zurich, Basel and Langres. Arrives in Paris on the 14th of July. Stays at Daniel Poiana (9, cite Condorcet), then moves to 10, Place de la Bourse.Works as a dishwasher in a restaurant and as a sexton in the Romanian chapel (rue Jean-de-Beauvais).
1905 Moves to 16, Place Dauphine. Receives a grant from the Romanian Ministry of Education. Enrolls at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts, in the sculpture studio of Antonin Mercie.
1906 Exhibits a plaster bust at the Salon of the Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts and three plasters at the Salon d’Automne. Victor N. Popp wins a bronze Head of a Boy at a lottery.
1907 Works as Rodin’s assistant between March 24 and April 27, meeting there Edward Steichen and Henri Coanda. Leaves Rodin for “Nothing grows under the shadow of big trees”. Starts practicing “direct carving” (Head of a Young Girl, The Kiss). Receives an important commission for a memorial at Buzau – Portrait of Petre Stanescu and The Prayer. Moves to a new studio, 54, rue du Montparnasse. Two plasters are exhibited at “Tinerimea Artistica” (a Head of a Child is purchased by the State Picture Gallery of Bucharest). Four plasters (including the Torment) are shown at the Salon of the Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts. Two sculptures and a drawing are displayed at the Creteil abbey.
1908 Works for a time at La Ruche, the artists’colony. Does Wisdom of the Earth in stone and Sleep in marble. Exhibits a bronze bust at the Salon of the Societe Nationale des Beaux- Arts and two works (including a bronze Torment) at “Tinerimea artistica”. Makes friends with Henri Le Douanier, Fernand Leger and Amedeo Modigliani. Visits museums with Romanian painter Cecilia Cutescu-Storck.
1909 Sends three works to the Salon of “Tinerimea artistica”. Goes to Romania in May. Exhibits a plaster bust (Portrait of Nicolae Darascu) and a marble Head of a Child at the Bucharest Official Exhibition of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. The plaster is purchased by the State Picture Gallery, the marble by Alexandru Bogdan-Pitesti. Anastase Simu acquires the marble Sleep. Participates in the Salon d’Automne. Carves a stele, The Kiss.
1910 Founding member of the “Association amicale des roumains de Paris”. Meets Margit Pogany. Shows The Prayer at the Salon des Independants. Wisdom of the Earth is displayed at the “Tinerimea Artistica” Salon (engineer Gheorghe Romascu acquires it). The Kiss (Fragment of a Capital) is shown at the Autumn Salon of “Tinerimea Artistica”. Does the first marble version of Maiastra.
1911 Places the stele The Kiss on Tatiana Rachewskaya’s grave at Montparnasse Cemetery. Does “Prometheus”.
1912 Exhibits three sculptures at the Salon des Independants (Sleeping Muse, Prometheus, the Kiss). Wins first prize for Study (Fragment of a Torso), shown at the Bucharest Official Salon. Unveiling of the bronze Portrait of General Doctor Carol Davila at the Bucharest Military Hospital.
1913 Five sculptures are displayed for the first time in the USA, at the Armory Show in New York (travelled to Chicago and Boston) : a marble Torso and four plasters – Mlle Pogany, The Kiss, Sleeping Muse and Muse. Other works are displayed in exhibitions in Paris, Munich, Bucharest, and London. Carves first sculpture in wood, The First Step.Travels to London.
1914 Six works are displayed at the salon of “Tinerimea artistica” in Bucharest (including The Prayer and thePortrait of Petre Stanescu).Visits Romania (May 26 – June 17) to place on pedestals the works for the Buzau Ensemble. Minister Mortun refuses his project for a monument to Spiru Haret. Contributes five sculptures to an exhibition of modern art in Prague. First one-person exhibition (March 12 – April 1) installed by Edward Steichen at the Gallery of the Photo Secession in New York (a bronze Maiastra, six marble and bronze heads and The First Step in wood). Begins to photograph his works.
1915 Works displayed in the Bernheim Jeune Gallery, for a raffle to benefit Polish artists, victims of the war. Carves in wood The Prodigal Son and the Caryatid.
1916 Moves to 8, Impasse Ronsin. Is declared unfit for active duty. Exhibits two sculptures in London. Second one-person exhibition at the Modern Gallery in New York (October 23 – November 11). Carves in wood The Sorceress. Does The Column of the Kiss.
1917 Sculptures shown in the first exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists in New York. Carves in wood Chimera. A sketched Endless Column is shown in a photo of a mobile group, sent to collector John Quinn.
1918 Hospitalized for a broken leg, makes drawings and watercolors. Completes an Endless Column carved in old oak (1/2 + 3 + 1/2 modules ), 2.02 m high. [Purchased by John Quinn in 1922, it is displayed in the Museum of Modern Art of New York].
1919 Meets Erik Satie and Katherine Dreier. Romanian sculptor Milita Petrascu works in his studio (1919 – 1923)
1920 Exhibits three sculptures at the Salon des Independants. Princess X is removed on grounds of phallic obscenity, but restored later. Numerous personalities sign a protest in support of the artist. Shows two works in the “Arta romana” Salon, in Bucharest. Little French Girl is shown in the inaugural exhibition of the “Societe Anonyme, Inc.” in New York.
1921 Travels to Romania (June 3-18), by way of Italy, Greece and Turkey. Proposes to do a memorial for the Pestisani heroes. On return trip, stops in Prague, Berlin and Brussels. Man Ray advises him in the technique of photography. Ezra Pound”s essay on Brancusi is published in The Little Review (New York). Trip to Corsica.
1922 Signs resolution supporting Dada poet Tristan Tzara and adds the comment “En art il n’y a pas d’etrangers” (In art there are no strangers).Twenty-two sculptures and one drawing (most of them from Quinn’s collection) are shown in New York, in the Exhibition of Contemporary French Art. Visits Romania with Eileen Lane ( September 11 – October 7). Goes to Sinaia, Craiova, Targu-Jiu, Pestisani, Hobita, Bucharest). Return to Paris by way of Rome and Marseilles.<
1923 Awarded the Romanian Star (“Steaua Romaniei”) by King Ferdinand I of Romania. Does the portrait of Eileen Lane in white onyx. John Quinn visits his studio.
1924 Two sculptures exhibited at the Romanian Pavilion in the Venice Biennale. Carves in wood the Portrait of Nancy Cunard. Romanian sculptor Irina Codreanu works in his studio (1924 – 1928). Sculptors Gheorghe Anghel, Romul Ladea and Mac Constantinescu also work there. The first international exhibition of contemporary art of “Contimporanul” (Bucharest) display four of his sculptures : The Kiss, in plaster and Mlle Pogany, Maiastra and Head of a Muse in bronze. The first two are owned by the Storck spouses, the last two are lent to them for a while. Death of John Quinn, Brancusi’s most important patron.
1925 Aphorisms and a fable by Brancusi are published in “This Quarter” (Paris) and “Integral” (Bucharest). A special issue of “Contimporanul” is devoted to the artist. The Exhibition of Tri-National Art displays some of his works in Paris and London.It will be travelled to New York in 1926. Brancusi visits London. Carves higher Endless Columns.
1926 First trip to the United States (January 28 – March 22). Third one-person exhibition (February 18 – March 3) at the Wildenstein galleries in New York (eight sculptures and some drawings). Back to France installs an Endless Column, 7.17 m high, carved in a poplar (1/2 + 9 + ½ modules) in Edward Steichen’s garden at Voulangis. Attends opening of group exhibition in Antwerp. Travels to Hyeres for the project of a monumental Bird in Space. Second trip to the United States (September 23 – December 3) to prepare his fourth one-person exhibition at the Brummer Gallery in New York (November 17 – December 15) displaying 42 sculptures, 27 drawings and one painting. Quinn’s Endless Column is on show.U.S. Customs refuses to classify Bird in Space as a work of art.
1927 The Brummer Gallery Exhibition is travelled to the Arts Club of Chicago. Legal action sought against the Customs Office – “Brancusi vs United States”. Moves to 11, Impasse Ronsin. Isamu Noguchi becomes his assistant. His works are shown in Toronto, Buffalo, Hamburg, Paris, New York and Bucharest. Abandons the project of a monumental Bird in Space at Hyeres. Carves an Endless Column in a poplar.
1928 Works exhibited in Moscow, Leningrad, Bucharest, Paris and Claremont. Jean Arp, Carola Giedion-Welcker and James Joyce visit him. On November 26 wins customs trial.
1929 Draws figurative and abstract portraits of James Joyce. Draws Benjamin Fondane’s portrait and illustrates Ilarie Voronca’s book “Plante si animale”. Makes Diaghilev’s death-mask. Buys a 16-mm film camera. Works on show in Zurich, Berlin, Bucharest, Cambridge, Claremont, Paris.
1930 Works shown in The Hague, Amsterdam, Brussels, Philadelphia and Chicago. Jacques Herold becomes his assistant (1930-1931). Travels to Romania (September 26 – October 12). Goes to Hobita, Pestisani, and Bucharest. Stays at “Grand Hotel du Boulevard” and discusses the project of a monumental Endless Column with Dem. Dobrescu, the mayor of the capital.
1931 Project for a monument to writer Ion Luca Caragiale in Ploiesti. Awarded the Order of Cultural Merit for the Plastic Arts (“Meritul Cultural pentru Arta Plastica”) by King Carol II of Romania.Yeshwant Rao Holkar, maharajah of Indore, purchases a bronze Bird in Space and commissions two others in marble.
1932 Sculptor Barbara Hepworth, painter Ben Nicholson and gallery-owner Joseph Brummer visit his studio. Works displayed in Chicago.
1933 Second one-person show at the Brummer Gallery in New York (November 17 – January 13,1934), installed by Marcel Duchamp: 55 sculptures, a fresco, two photos. Three Endless Columns are on display. Group exhibitions in Sao Paulo, Paris, Chicago, New York and Philadelphia.
1934 Group exhibitions in Hartford, Philadelphia, Brussels, Chicago, New York. On Militza Petrascu’s suggestion, Arethia Tatarescu, the president of the National Women’s League of Gorj, invites Brancusi to do a memorial to the Gorj heroes slain during World War I. Birth of John Moore, Brancusi’s son by Vera Moore, on September 15. The Romanian engineer Stefan Georgescu-Gorjan visits the studio in December.
1935 On January 7, engineer Gorjan presents his solution for a monumental Endless Column. On February 11, Brancusi writes a letter to Militza Petrascu, informing her that he accepts Mrs Tatarescu’s proposal.
1936 Works displayed in New York, San Francisco, Cleveland, London. Sends the black and white marble versions of Bird in Space to Indore. Thinks of a temple to house them. In December confers with engineer Gorjan on the technical aspects of the Column, to be constructed at the Petrosani Central Workshops, under the engineer’s supervision.
1937 Young Bird is displayed in the Romanian Pavilion of the International Exhibition in Paris. Works exhibited in New York, Cleveland. In June-July visits Bucharest, Poiana and Targu-Jiu, to select the location of the future Gate of the Kiss, Table of Silence and Endless Column. Throughout August, stays in engineer Gorjan’s house in Petrosani. The dimensions of the monumental Endless Column are established and the artist carves the wooden model of a module.On September 2, returns to France. In early November comes to Targu-Jiu, to supervise the threading of the first modules on the steel spine, the construction of the Gate of the Kiss, and to attend the dedication of the Sts Peter and Paul church. Invites engineer Gorjan to accompany him to Indore but the young man has to supervise the completion of the monument in Targu-Jiu. In December, the artist boards the Conte Biancamano in Genoa headed to Bombay.
1938 Stays in Indore for a month but has to abandon the project of the Temple. Visits Egypt and the pyramids. Attends opening of the “Tentoonstelling Abstrakte Kunst” in Amsterdam. In June-July, back to Targu-Jiu, oversees the completion of the ensemble (the carving by Ion Alexandrescu of the “Kiss” motifs on the Gate, the metallization of the Column and the final form of the Table, made out of the upper drums of two previous tables). Does not attend the dedication of the ensemble on October 27. Works shown in London and New York.
1939 Third and final trip to the United States (April 19 –May 25). Attends opening of “Art in Our Time”, tenth anniversary show of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Travels to Philadelphia, Washington and Chicago. The project of a stainless steel skyscraper in the shape of an Endless Column does not come to fruition.
1940 War years spent in seclusion. Juana Muller works as his apprentice. Works displayed in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia.
1941 Group exhibition in New York, “From Rodin to Brancusi”.
1942 Works shown in Toronto and New York. The stone Danaide is displayed in a Bucharest gallery.
1943 Works shown in Philadelphia. Sculptures from the Popp collection are displayed at Craiova.
1944 Works displayed in Cincinnati, New York, Philadelphia and Basel.
1945 Does the Boundary Marker. Works displayed at the Museum of Modern Art, in New York. Sculptor George Teodorescu works in his studio.
1946 The “Musee National d’Art Moderne” of Paris purchases Cock and Seal II.[ A Sleeping Muse will be donated in 1963 by Baroness Renee Irana Frachon]. Works shown in Detroit, Saint Louis, New Haven, Cincinnati and Newark.
1947 Works displayed in Prague, Berlin, Bratislava, Brno, Avignon, New York and Paris. Constantin Antonovici works in the studio (1947 – 1951).
1948 Works displayed in Baltimore, Venice, New York, Amsterdam and London. Painters Alexandru Istrati and Natalia Dumitrescu become his assistants and neighbours (4, Impasse Ronsin).
1949 Works displayed in New Haven, Florence, Paris, Venice, New York, Chicago and Minneapolis.
1950 Requests French citizenship. Works displayed in Philadelphia, Rhode Island and New York. At the National Gallery, inaugurated in the Bucharest Art Museum, Portrait of Painter Darascu and Sleep are on show.
1951 Works displayed in Amsterdam, Zurich, Brussels and New York.
1952 Receives French citizenship. Works on show in Melbourne, Paris, London, New Haven, Philadelphia, Chicago and New York.
1953 Works on show in Paris, Houston,New York, Anvers and Sao Paulo.
1954 Works on show in Yverdon and Zurich. Since October 16, works on show in the permanent installation of the Louise and Walter Arensberg collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
1955 Hospitalization for femur fracture.Works on show in Bloomfield Hills, Ann Arbor, Paris. First retrospective exhibition ( 59 sculptures, 10 drawings and a gouache) at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York (October 16 – January 8).
1956 The retrospective exhibition travels to Philadelphia (January 27 – February 26). On April 12 the artist bequeaths his studio and its contents to the French state on condition that it should be reconstructed for the benefit of the public. He appoints Dr Pascu Atanasiu as executor and Alexandru Istrati and Natalia Dumitrescu as residuary legatees. Discusses the project of a 400-meter tall Column in polished stainless steel for Lake Michigan. Sculptures from the Popp collection are displayed in Craiova (August 1-31). The first European one-person exhibition of the artist (14 works) is organized in Bucharest (December 24 – 31).
1957 Death of Constantin Brancusi on March 16. Funeral mass at the Romanian Orthodox church on rue Jean-de-Beauvais and burial at the Montparnasse Cemetery (March 19).

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