Constantin Brancusi (Romanian, 1876-1957)
brass, without base - h:63.82 w:30.48 d:19.05 cm (h:25 1/8 w:12 d:7 1/2 inches). Hinman B. Hurlbut Collection 3205.1937
Hoping to reveal the "true sense of things," Brancusi mused, "What can sculpture do without?" This sculpture reduces the human form to a timeless, universal essence. The smooth, highly polished brass surface was unusual at a time when most metal sculptures were cast in dull bronze. Not only does the reflective surface unify the parts into one continuous form, but it also dematerializes the sculpture's mass, transforming the figure into a spiritual lightness. Brancusi made three versions of this sculpture: a wood version (Philadelphia Museum of Art) and two in brass (this museum and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden).