A pioneer of modern sculpture, Constantin Brancusi found inspiration in folkloric art and geometric lines. I first learned about Brancusi and the Architectural Ensemble at Targu Jiu when we discussed important figures of Gorj County during my 4th grade Geography classes. I remember feeling small every time I sat next to The Endless Column, as well as something else that eluded words, which I still have trouble explaining. Luckily I now have the artist’s words to help me decipher both the sculptures and the emotions connected to them.
My first true encounter with Brancusi was through a friend’s article on 10 Romanian places in Paris, which revealed to me the story of The Kiss – a piece commissioned by the father of Tatiana Rachewskaia, a wealthy Russian who killed herself out of love.
Her story led me to finding more about the craft of sculpting and about how Brancusi saw the link between life, death and love. His sculptures are linked in a series: The Kiss came first, then The Kiss Column, followed by The Gate of the Kiss. He said:
I wanted to make something that told the story not of a single couple, but of all people who loved each other and walked the Earth before having left it.”
What’s striking about the work of Brancusi is its simplicity or “resolved complexity”, ashe named it. A layman’s eye looking at The Gate of the Kiss sees lines and circles carved in rock. In actuality all sides of each column are adorned with symbols of the kiss – two halves of a circle. Above the gate there are 40 pairs of lovers facing each other; their faces only show the eyes and the mouth, which unites two halves of the same unit. The interlocked silhouettes of The Kiss are reduced to a few symbols on the gate, recalling couples, love, life and death.
After reading my friend’s article and seeing Targu Jiu with new eyes, I wanted to visit Brancusi’s workshop in Paris, a replica found at Georges Pompidou Centre, which hosts a large part of his works. The experience was a feast for the eyes: the ensemble of works, the way the light fell on bronze and marble, each sculpture and pedestal. Brancusi was constantly mindful of the relationship between the sculptures, their surrounding space and the pedestals. The intimate connection between the sculptures inside the workshop became paramount, and around 1950 he refused to sell his works. If convinced of letting one go, he would replace it with a replica made in cast to recall the original piece made of marble or bronze.
My next meeting with Brancusi will be at his home at Hobita. I know the Oltenian gate he sculpted resides at Paris, but I want to see the places that molded him, the gardens where he envisioned The Endless Column in the shape of the oaks, the table he ate at and the veranda where his mother would be waiting for him.
Do you recall your first encounter with Brancusi?
Our big plan is an Oltenia tour
, that will happen this year in June, which will include Hobita and Targu Jiu. Our smaller plan is a special trip, with focus on Brancusi. Find more about what are we planning for you on our Join us on trip!