Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Brancusi's Newborn

I strongly recommend that you read read my friend Shelley's post on Brancusi's Newborn. Shelley's blog has a picture of an earlier version done in marble (1915); the picture I have is of a bronze version from 1920 (MoMA collection). I prefer the pristine, white marble version, but I like the angle of the sculpture in this image.

Shelley beautifully describes this sculpture as a depiction of a crying newborn. (She is also expecting twins at present, so perhaps her maternal hormones are helping her to write about newborns in such a lovely fashion.) Along these same lines, another writer described this sculpture as an egg that begins to stir and open:

“This Newborn [figure] may be explained thus to anyone who resists it: Here is the egg or the embryo beginning to break up and stir. It stops being a perfect egg shape and stirs into life. It flattens out at one side and seems to open up like a baby crying to be fed.”1

I know that Brancusi did not like his work to be called "abstract," but instead felt like his sculptures embodied the "essence" of things.2 Because of this, I have a hard time describing Brancusi's sculptures - I feel like I'm always going to use an incorrect term or upset someone. To play it safe, I'll just say that I feel like this sculpture embodies the essence of new life. Isn't it a beautiful sculpture?

1 Louis Slobodkin, Sculpture, Principles and Practice, Dover Publications, Inc, 1949. Citation found on an art blog post; I recommend that people read this post as well.

2 Brancusi reportedly said, "There are imbeciles who call my work as abstract; that which they call abstract is the most realist, because what is real is not the exterior form but the idea, the essence of things." See Ernest C. Marshall, "Artistic Convention and the Issue of Truth in Art," Journal of Aesthetic Education 23, no. 3 (Autumn, 1989): 74.