LACMA's only two holdings of work by the Modernist artist Constantin Brancusi are two sculptures, both of his iconic Bird in Space, generous partial, fractional, and promised gifts of Janice and Henri Lazarof. Brancusi revolutionized Modern art in the early 20th century: his translation of natural forms into abstracted, simplified shapes produced figures that were reduced to their essential elements. The artist carved directly into the material with which he was working, whether it was wood or stone; he eschewed traditional modeling. For his bronze works, such as this one, Brancusi would polish the surfaces of his material to produce a specific, highly reflective golden-yellow finish that emphasized the materiality of the sculpture. Brancusi made Bird in Space in the span of 20 years, in both marble and bronze, and each iteration of Bird in Space offered a revision of the sculpture. The artist adjusted the height and proportions of his bird, in what can be seen as refinements or a search for the perfect form. The base, admittedly an extension of the graceful articulation of the subject and a fundamental component of the sculpture, was also designed by Brancusi.
This year marks LACMA's 50th anniversary. We're celebrating all that we've done while looking forward to what's in store for us in the next 50. Check back every week on Unframed to find a highlight of an artwork from LACMA's collection, which features over 120,000 objects that span time, the globe, and all cultures. This is 14/50 of the series.