"Create like a god"
Constantin Brâncuși (1876-1957) is a pioneer of modernism (19th-20th centuries' belief that traditions are ill fitted for the modern world). From the age of seven, he carved farm tools while working for his peasant family in Romania, and as a teenager made a violin with found materials for which an impressed local industrialist sent him to an art school. In 1903, Brâncuși travelled to France where he met artists brimming with new ideas. This, together with his interest in Byzantine and African art, developed his own revolutionary style: distilling the 'essence of things' in abstracted geometric forms. He did not like to be called 'abstract' artist. "My work is most realistic! What is real is not the appearance, but the idea, the essence of things." The longing for 'essence' is well reflected in his Bird in Space sculpture series of elongated shapes of a bird stripped of individual features symbolising the upward movement; its smooth polished surface making it luminous and elegant. One of the sculptures (on the right) was sold for $27.5 million in 2005. "Work like a slave; create like a god", said Brâncuși.
The Bird in Space, 1920-40