‘What is real is not the appearance, but the idea, the essence of things.’
Constantin Brâncuși’s work draws on his agrarian childhood and nods to the primitivist trend of the early 20th Century. After moving to Paris from Romania, he was invited to Auguste Rodin’s workshop, but left after two months with the explanation:
‘Nothing can grow under big trees.’
Rather than casting, Brâncuși’s style was subtractive – direct carving was ‘the true road to sculpture.’ He refined the sculptural skin, concealing all traces of his hand resulting in a perfect machine-like finish.
The Futurists inspired Brâncuși, but the artist didn’t adhere to their aggressive ethos – there is a contentment and simplicity of form in his sculptures.
The Beginning of the World is a self-contained, continuous gesture in marble.
A polished bronze egg rests on a steel plate, on top of a limestone plinth. The ovoid is reflected in the polished steel, contemplating itself; its position on its side was Brâncuși’s repeated sign for dreaming. The piece is anchored in reality – the egg shape contains a strong sense of form – asserting that stone can be as meaningful as anything it represents.
The Beginning of the World, 1920.
-Helen D. Cogswell