Legend has it that sculptor Constantin Brancusi carried out the entire journey on foot from his hometown of Gorj in Romania, across central Europe, to Paris in 1904. He immediately made the French capital his home and settled there until 1957.
During this pivotal period in his career he worked between two studios on the Rue de Vaugirad, the contents of which he later donated to the state of France on the premise that they be immaculately reconstructed and preserved in their entirety.
Brancusi was adamant that his sculptures should be presented together in one installation, reflecting his original composition. For him, the studio space he inhabited was an integral part of the artwork itself and served as a canvas on which to adjust and readjust the panorama. On display at the Pompidou Centre, its representation appears something akin to a temple, safeguarding its relics.
Inside he had complete control of the sculptures and their relationship to light, space and movement, repositioning each one to create an overall harmony.
Brancusi viewed his work as an entire composition, rather than separate pieces and so factors such as the space between each form, their juxtaposition and choice of plinth became crucial.
In 1920 Brancusi found himself at the centre of a great scandal, when his bronze “Princess X” was withdrawn from display at the Salon des Independants after being brandished as obscenely pornographic. This was a driving factor in the sculptor’s decision to create an exhibition space within his studio, where he could have complete control over the curation and censorship.
Each phase of the production is presented in the atelier, where polished bronze and perfectly carved marble sits alongside dense, solid wood bases and plaster replicas.
He stipulated that in the reconstruction of his atelier, they were not to omit the functional details. These are evident in his workroom, where the battered workbenches and vast collection of craft tools fill the space.
Visit Atelier Brancusi at the Centre Pompidou, Paris
Opening Hours: 2.00 – 6.00 p.m. every day except Tuesdays
Photos and text: Jennifer Ring