The Sculpture of Constantin Brancusi: Shifting the Bases of Art

Overview

Constantin Brancusi - the most influential sculptor of the twentieth century - is usually viewed as a sculptor of pure, perfect, essential forms and as a lone visionary and exotic peasant-sage, aloof from both the social concerns of his age and from avant-garde affiliations. In this fascinating book, Anna C. Chave explodes many of the myths about Brancusi, offering a revised view of the sculptor as an artist creatively responding to avant-garde and social concerns of his day. Using both feminist and ...
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1993 Hardcover New in New dust jacket 0300055269. Yale Publications in the History of Art (Unnumbered); 4to 11"-13" tall; xvi, 335 pages; New, unread copy. Dustjacket has two ... tiny tears, Contains 16 pages of plates. Read more Show Less

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Overview

Constantin Brancusi - the most influential sculptor of the twentieth century - is usually viewed as a sculptor of pure, perfect, essential forms and as a lone visionary and exotic peasant-sage, aloof from both the social concerns of his age and from avant-garde affiliations. In this fascinating book, Anna C. Chave explodes many of the myths about Brancusi, offering a revised view of the sculptor as an artist creatively responding to avant-garde and social concerns of his day. Using both feminist and social-historical lenses to view Brancusi's art, she explores the complex ways in which his works undermine established cultural hierarchies, challenge the fixed nature of sexual identity, and renounce notions of mastery and authority. She discusses, most specifically, how the imperiled status of the subject in an alienated, technological age is addressed by Brancusi's fragmented figures and by the displacement of the masculine by the feminine subject in his production; how the inward-looking, modern subject is invoked by Brancusi's polished, mirroring sculptures, which invite narcissistic reflection; how the changing status of the handmade object in the age of mass production is suggested by Brancusi's use of repetition; how the perceived erosion of gender boundaries in the modern age is treated in numerous sculptures involving scrambled sexual signs; and how the search for new means of transcendence and liberation is evinced in the reinvigorated image of sexual love and spiritual striving glimpsed in certain of Brancusi's most important works. By examining these achievements and his reimagining of the concept of the base - which he generally poised in a dialogic and shifting relation to his sculpture - Chave shows how Brancusi shifted the foundations of art.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This scholarly study of the radically inventive Romanian abstract sculptor looks at his life and work from a poststructuralist point of view. As she draws upon Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, among other things, Chave's obvious love for the outwardly simplistic beauty in Brancusi's oeuvre becomes quickly mired in the impenetrably abstruse prose of the academy. Chave states that she employs ``a hermeneutic model of psychopoetics,'' fashioning a ``counterorthodox or reinventive approach'' to his sculpture. For all but those in academe to whom poststructuralism remains a viable paradigm, such language is excessive. Brancusi himself once cautioned his critics, ``Don't look for obscure formulas or mystery. I offer you pure joy.'' Only those academic libraries seeking comprehensive coverage of 20th-century art need consider buying this. A far better purchase for most collections would be Radu Varia's handsome Brancusi (LJ 3/1/87), which remains in print.-Douglas F. Smith, Oakland P.L., Cal.
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Product Details

Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
About Brancusi 1
1 Figuration and Disfiguration: The Vanishing Muse 23
2 The Reflected and Reflective Gaze: For the Love of Narcissus 66
3 Princess X/Prince's Sex: Repositioning Gender 93
4 Fables of Creation: The Cosmogonic Egg 124
5 Difference, Displacement, and the Ethnographic Attitude 164
6 The Object on Trial: The Bird and the Base in Space 198
7 Public and Private Spaces: Monuments, Temples, and the Studio 250
Notes 285
Selected Bibliography 325
Index 329
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