Bruce Silverstein Gallery is pleased to present Brancusi: The Photographs, an exhibition of the artist’s groundbreaking photographic works. Featuring over 40 original prints, each made by Brancusi himself, this exhibition reveals Brancusi’s visionary dedication to the photographic medium as means of personal expression—an art form that the artist explored parallel to his sculpture. The photographs are integral to understanding Brancusi as an artist as they indicate that he was not only fully aware of photography’s power to guide, control, and enhance the viewer’s experience of his three-dimensional works, but also to completely transform them into new works of art. By physically placing and positioning his sculptures in his studio, Brancusi creates complex compositions that often incorporate radical lighting; his photographs express a unique pictorial vision that moves decisively beyond mere documentation and firmly establishes Brancusi as one of the most remarkably innovative image-makers in the history of the medium.
Brought together for the first time, the works included in Brancusi: The Photographs were printed by the artist and either come directly from or have passed through the hands of family, friends and known collectors of his work who received them during the artist’s lifetime. Produced from both photographic negatives as well as 16 mm film stills, these vintage prints include images of his individual sculptures, or at times larger studio views of groupings of his works (termed “groupe mobiles” by the artist) as well as numerous self-portraits, arresting still-lives of natural “ready-mades” such as flowers and a tree trunk, and countless other visual experiments taken within and outside of his studio. Unifying this wide array of subject matter is the artist’s discernable vision for his sculptural work which he expressed utilizing a photographic syntax—the language of light, shadow, reflection, and contrast—to give voice to each sculpture’s unique personality and convey its literal and allegorical relationship to his other works in his studio. By designing views of his studio through his camera, Brancusi purposefully translates his sculptures’ three-dimensional existence—their surface, weight, materiality, and line—into remarkable two-dimensional compositions.
This exhibition furthers the critical dialogue surrounding this seminal body of work, a subject initially explored by this gallery in 2002 through the exhibition Eye of the Sculptor: Constantin Brancusi, Henry Moore, and David Smith. Becoming a topic of growing interest, Brancusi’s photographs have been the focus of several recent exhibitions, including The Original Copy, Photography of Sculpture, 1839 to Today, held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, organized by Roxana Marcoci; Constantin Brancusi & Richard Serra: Resting in Time and Space, shown at the Foundation Beyeler, Switzerland produced by Oliver Wick; and Brancusi, Film and Photography, the monumental exhibition of Brancusi’s photographs exhibited at the Centre Pompidou, curated by Quentin Bajac.