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A structural analysis of constantin Brancusi’s stone sculpture Dawn, Leslie Allan 1982

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A STRUCTURAL ANALYSIS OF CONSTANTIN BRANCUSI'S STONE SCULPTURE by LESLIE ALLAN DAWN B . A . , M.A., University of V i c t o r i a  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in the Department of Art  History  We accept t h i s thesis as conforming to the required standard  ©  LESLIE ALLAN DAWN  UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA October 1982 All rights reserved. This thesis may not be reproduced in whole or in part by mimeograph or other means without the permission of the author. 3  3  In p r e s e n t i n g  t h i s t h e s i s i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of  requirements f o r an advanced degree at the  the  University  of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the L i b r a r y s h a l l make it  f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e and  study.  I  further  agree t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e copying of t h i s f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may  be granted by the head of  department or by h i s or her  representatives.  understood t h a t copying or p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s for financial  gain  Ws>TQg.»?  CF  The U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia 1956 Main Mall Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Y3 Date  (3/81)  E)g.T  my  It i s thesis  s h a l l not be allowed without my  permission.  Department of  thesis  written  i i  ABSTRACT  It has long been recognized by Sidney Geist and others that Constantin Brancusi's stone work, a f t e r 1907, forms a coherent t o t a l i t y in which each component depends on i t s r e l a t i o n s h i p to the whole for  its  s i g n i f i c a n c e ; in s h o r t , the oeuvre comprises a rigorous sculptural language.  Up to the present, however, f o r m a l i s t approaches have proven  i n s u f f i c i e n t for decodifying the c l e a r design which can be i n t u i t e d the language.  in  The resultant confusion can be a t t r i b u t e d to the f a c t that  formalism takes only h a l f of the work's s i g n i f i c a n c e into account.  Yet  Brancusi's careful s e l e c t i o n of t i t l e s , and his i n s i s t e n c e on content, indicate that the l a t t e r plays an equal part in e s t a b l i s h i n g the r e l a tionships between his s c u l p t u r e s .  A s t r u c t u r a l i s t analysis which treats  his work as a system composed of signs and which takes both form (signifier)  and content ( s i g n i f i e d ) into account, and relates each piece  to the whole, seems imperative. Various features of B r a n c u s i ' s work, including his mythological themes (Prometheus, the Danaids) and transformations  (Leda, M a i a s t r a ) ,  as well as the presence of p a r a l l e l yet opposing works (George, Princess Xj and reconciled d u a l i t i e s (the K i s s ) , correspond to Le"vi-Strauss' observations on the features of "mythic" thought or "concrete" l o g i c . Thus L ^ v i - S t r a u s s  1  s t r u c t u r a l i s t methodology was chosen from those a v a i l -  able for analyzing Brancusi's work.  This choice i s strengthened by  Brancusi's p r i m i t i v e background in Romania, his techniques ( l a  taille  d i r e c t e ) , and his a f f i l i a t i o n with the French avant garde when i t was  ii i drawing i n s p i r a t i o n from p r i m i t i v e a r t .  It i s the thesis of t h i s study  that Brancusi was a " p r i m i t i v e thinker" working in P a r i s , and that the structure of his sculptural language functions l i k e a p r i m i t i v e mythology. Language systems do not depend s o l e l y , however, on t h e i r  internal  r e l a t i o n s h i p s f o r t h e i r s i g n i f i c a n c e ; they draw much of i t from t h e i r s o c i a l context.  It i s thus necessary to reconstruct the h i s t o r i c a l  m i l i e u from which Brancusi drew his ideas. A s t r u c t u r a l i s t and h i s t o r i c a l analysis of the K i s s , the cornerstone of Brancusi's stone work, indicates that the sculpture does, in f a c t , function l i n g u i s t i c a l l y l i k e a mythic o b j e c t , and that i t has a highly complex, and densely packed s i g n i f i c a n c e .  The l a t t e r arises from  Brancusi's major sources of i n s p i r a t i o n : the sculpture of Rodin and the philosophy of Henri Bergson.  Although these have been noted before,  there has never been any systematic study of the i n f l u e n c e , p a r t i c u l a r l y of the l a t t e r , on Brancusi's work.  The s t r u c t u r a l i s t analysis employed  here indicates that Brancusi continued to employ Bergson's concepts of glan v i t a l e , i n t u i t i o n , d u r a t i o n , creative e v o l u t i o n , and the oppositions between consciousness and unconsciousness, the continuous and d i s c o n t i n uous, material and s p i r i t u a l , from the e a r l y Kiss to the l a s t Birds in Space.  On the other hand, Brancusi transformed Bergson's ideas into his  sculptural language and inverted those which did not correspond to the requirements of the mythology. A s t r u c t u r a l i s t analysis of the sculpture a f t e r the Kiss confirms the accepted theory that Brancusi developed his works in s e r i e s , but also supplements i t by demonstrating that these s e r i e s are as much linked by  iv content as by form, that i s , they proceed both metaphorically and metonymically.  Furthermore, the analysis indicates that the four major  series a r e , in t u r n , systematically linked to each other.  It appears  that Brancusi conceived his series in opposing p a r a l l e l pairs which could be transformed, through mediating elements, into each other. When the series are f i n a l l y linked the conceptual  infrastructure,  or metalanguage, which establishes the r e l a t i o n s h i p s between the t o t a l i t y and the p a r t s , becomes c l e a r .  Various other o p p o s i t i o n s , such as those  of male/female, sacred/profane, human/animal, can also be seen to r e l a t e opposing works and series to each other.  The e n t i r e s t r u c t u r e , however,  rotates around the Bergsonian dualism of the material and the s p i r i t u a l . Only when the f i n a l work has been placed in the s t r u c t u r a l i s t matrix can the system be perceived as coherent. Nonetheless, once the basic concepts of Brancusi's early works and t h e i r semantic r e l a t i o n s h i p s are c l e a r l y understood, his system of sculptures can be seen to proceed with such r i g o r that the existence of c e r t a i n works can be predicted.  T h i s , in t u r n , validates the a p p l i c a t i o n  of both the methodology and the a n a l y s i s .  V  TABLE OF CONTENTS  ABSTRACT  1 1  TABLE OF CONTENTS  v  LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS PREFACE  v i  v 1 n  '  INTRODUCTION  1  CHAPTER  5  CHAPTER  I II  ...  .  3 4  CHAPTER III  5 6  CHAPTER  IV  9 5  CHAPTER  V  CHAPTER  VI  1 1 9  1 4 7  CHAPTER VII  1 7 3  CONCLUSION  1 9 3  BIBLIOGRAPHY  2 0 0  vi  LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS Penguin Island Penguin Island  . •.  133 A 133 B  Figure 1  91 A  Figure 2  112 A  Figure 3  113 A  Figure 4  115 A  Figure 5  168 A  Figure 6  187 A  vii  PREFACE  This study and analysis of Constantin Brancusi's work owes much to several people.  It was Dr. Ida Rigby who f i r s t encouraged me to  pursue the t o p i c and suggested the d i r e c t i o n i t could take.  The s t a f f  at the Centre Georges Pompidou in P a r i s , which houses the Brancusi archives and a r e p l i c a of his s t u d i o , together with several of his works, were most h e l p f u l .  In p a r t i c u l a r I would l i k e to acknowledge the kind  assistance of M a r i e l l e Tabart, Nadine P o u i l l o n , Ophe'lie S t i f f l e r and Came'e de Li H e r s .  The information obtained at the Centre, where I was  able to examine Brancusi's personal l i b r a r y , photographs and drawings, was invaluable to my research.  F i n a l l y I would l i k e to thank  Dr. Serge Guilbaut and Dr. David Sol kin for overseeing the progress and completion of t h i s study.  Their comments, c r i t i c i s m s and insights were  most h e l p f u l . Depending on the source, quotes are e i t h e r i n French or E n g l i s h ; I have done no t r a n s l a t i n g .  T i t l e s of sculptures are generally given  in t h e i r accepted a n g l i c i z e d v e r s i o n .  I l l u s t r a t i o n s of the i n d i v i d u a l  pieces have been omitted since they are well represented i n Sidney G e i s t ' s works.  Graphic i l l u s t r a t i o n s  have been included only when  necessary to show r e l a t i o n s h i p s described i n the t e x t .  INTRODUCTION  Our understanding of the art of Brancusi up to the present has been based on i m p r e s s i o n i s t i c , b i o g r a p h i c a l l y oriented c r i t i c i s m on the one hand, and a fragmentary knowledge of the sculpture on the other; i t has been prey to metaphysical i n t e r p r e t a t i o n from without and a l l manner of doubt and imprecision from w i t h i n . The disarray in which the oeuvre i s customarily presented has tended, besides, to disturb i t s c l e a r design and to dissolve the r e l a t i o n s between the whole and i t s p a r t s . ' Sidney G e i s t ' s chronological examination of Brancusi's oeuvre did much to c l a r i f y thinking about both the sculpture and the s c u l p t o r .  It  was, however, as Geist subsequently pointed out, e s s e n t i a l l y l i m i t e d to a formal a n a l y s i s , although some valuable biographical material was also included. forward.  The present study attempts to take G e i s t ' s work one step It,  too, w i l l explore the " c l e a r design" and "the r e l a t i o n s  between the whole and i t s  parts."  In order to accomplish t h i s end, B r a n c u s i ' s oeuvre of stone work w i l l be subjected to a s t r u c t u r a l i s t a n a l y s i s — t h a t i s , the whole w i l l be viewed as a complete language system, and the parts w i l l be examined as l o g i c a l l y related units within the whole.  A special brand of  s t r u c t u r a l i s t theory, that developed by Claude Le"vi-Strauss, w i l l be employed as i t provides the most pertinent paradigm f o r analysing the r e l a t i o n s h i p s between the units and the t o t a l i t y .  In order to understand  these r e l a t i o n s , the works themselves must be re-examined, not only in t h e i r b i o g r a p h i c a l , but also t h e i r h i s t o r i c a l context.  T h i s , too,  supplements G e i s t ' s work as much new information based on extensive  2 o r i g i n a l research i s introduced here f o r the f i r s t time.  Indeed, i t  will  provide an e n t i r e l y new scope and range to Brancusi's work that has been previously alluded to only in passing or completely ignored. This i s not the f i r s t occasion of such an a n a l y s i s .  Jack Burnham,  i n The Structure of A r t , used some of L e v i - S t r a u s s ' ideas in an examina2 t i o n of one of Brancusi's p i e c e s , the Leda.  As w i l l be seen, Burnham's  work was at once too broad.and too l i m i t e d to be of great value. f a i l e d in several respects.  It  Consequently i t seems to have done more to  d i s c r e d i t the a p p l i c a t i o n of s t r u c t u r a l i s t p r i n c i p l e s to art h i s t o r y than to advance them. One of the major l i m i t a t i o n s  of Burnham's analysis was i t s use of  only a f r a c t i o n of Brancusi's oeuvre.  The parameters s h a l l be broadened  here to include a l l of the stone work produced a f t e r the Kiss of 1907. Several reasons can be given for e s t a b l i s h i n g these broader parameters. Brancusi's work can be and has been categorized according to the materials he employed:  stone, metal and wood.  There are only two  instances where a concept expressed in stone also finds expression in 3 wood. Otherwise the two areas do not overlap. Gregory Saltzman has demonstrated that Brancusi employed a set of forms e x c l u s i v e l y reserved 4 for wood.  This set was l i m i t e d and heterogeneous, but was combined and  recombined in a l l pieces in t h i s m a t e r i a l .  This vocabulary of forms was  not used f o r works in stone in which, as s h a l l be shown h e r e i n , a d i f f e r e n t set of repeated elements was employed.  On the other hand,  Brancusi regarded bronze as an intermediary material rather than a d i s t i n c t category unto i t s e l f .  Conceptions in both stone and wood were  3 also created i n t h i s m a t e r i a l .  It can, however, now be s a f e l y concluded  that Brancusi's wood sculpture and his stone work c o n s i s t of and cons t i t u t e two separate syntaxes, grammars and vocabularies—in s h o r t , two d i s t i n c t language systems. This i s not to say that the two sets are not related in some manner, or that a s t r u c t u r a l i s t with the stone work. appear.  analysis cannot be employed with wood as  It i s hoped t h a t , in the f u t u r e , such w i l l  in fact  Before t h i s can occur, however, the basic elements of the stone  work must also be examined i n depth. The conclusions reached in t h i s study w i l l demonstrate that much of the s u b j e c t i v e , i m p r e s s i o n i s t i c and even the metaphysical observations of Brancusi's oeuvre have a c e r t a i n v a l i d i t y .  Lacking a s u f f i c i e n t l y  s c i e n t i f i c and rigorous methodology, however, these observations have tended to become, as Geist pointed out, confused and clouded.  Geist's  studies of the s c u l p t u r e , although of landmark importance, and more objective i n t h e i r a n a l y s i s than those of his predecessors, are also not without l i m i t a t i o n s and confusions.  It i s hoped that t h i s work w i l l  c l a r i f y his conclusions and give deeper i n s i g h t s into the meaning of Brancusi's i n d i v i d u a l works, the r e l a t i o n s h i p s between them, and the stone oeuvre as a t o t a l i t y .  If s u c c e s s f u l , i t should also give a more  profound appreciation of Brancusi the thinker and philosopher as well as the s c u l p t o r .  4 Footnotes: Introduction 1.  Sidney G e i s t , Brancusi: a study of the sculpture (New York: Grossman P u b l i s h e r s , 1968), p. i i i . (Hereafter c i t e d as G e i s t , 1968.)  2.  Jack Burnham, The Structure of Art (New York: George B r a z i l l e r , 1973, revised e d i t i o n . )  3.  A "Study" in wood of 1916 was used as the formal basis for the larger " P o r t r a i t of Mrs. Meyer," 1930, marble. The two versions of the t u r t l e s in wood and marble share only t h e i r t i t l e s , they are neither formally nor contextually s i m i l a r .  4.  Gregory Salzman, " B r a n c u s i ' s Woods," unpublished M.A. Report (London: Courtauld I n s t i t u t e of A r t , May 15, 1972).  5  CHAPTER I  The value of any methodology may be measured by the degree to which i t expands our awareness or v i s i o n of the subject to which i t i s a p p l i e d . Conversely, "its value i s diminished i f i t does violence e i t h e r to i t s own terms or to i t s subject.  A s t r u c t u r a l i s t a n a l y s i s , no less than any  o t h e r , i s open to the danger of an excess of subjective  interpretation  and the s e l e c t i v e manipulation of data to f u l f i l i t s own requirements. To avoid t h i s danger, d e f i n i t e parameters of operation must be establ i s h e d which w i l l ensure that the methodology i s applied rigorously and that the i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of information i s confined to d e f i n i t e l i m i t a tions imposed by the subject. is s t i l l  Controls are e s s e n t i a l as the methodology  in an experimental stage, e s p e c i a l l y in i t s a p p l i c a t i o n to the  problems of a r t h i s t o r y , and has had i t s c r e d i b i l i t y undermined in t h i s f i e l d by past m i s a p p l i c a t i o n s . As i s to be expected i n a s c u l p t u r a l oeuvre which i s characterized by the abstraction of forms and the e l i m i n a t i o n of a l l non-essential d e t a i l , nothing i s without s i g n i f i c a n c e . work must be accounted f o r .  A l l pertinent aspects of each  Fortunately, Sidney Geist has provided a  d e t a i l e d and r e l i a b l e inventory of the parts that are not always v i s i b l e or apparent in i l l u s t r a t i o n s .  G e i s t ' s f i r s t major study of the sculpture  and his l a t e r catalogue raisonne* w i l l be referred to frequently.^  6 Other aspects of G e i s t s a n a l y s i s , however, must be subjected to a 1  degree of c r i t i c a l  scrutiny.  Only on one or two rare but  important  occasions has he explored the broader h i s t o r i c a l s i g n i f i c a n c e or the content of Brancusi's work.  As s h a l l be demonstrated, Geist s f o r m a l i s t  methodology separates his approach from that of s t r u c t u r a l i s m . however, not the only pertinent  difference.  For the sake of argument, i t w i l l be assumed that the paradigm operates on several p r i n c i p l e s . chronic.  This i s ,  formalist  It i s t e l e o l o g i c a l and d i a -  It assumes an order to the evolution of modernist a r t .  This  development i s e x c l u s i v e : i t does not r e f l e c t or include broader aspects of c u l t u r e , society or h i s t o r y outside the a r t i s t i c realm.  The informa-  t i o n i t u t i l i z e s is generally drawn s t r i c t l y from that offered by the forms of the work i t s e l f .  The conclusions i t reaches are based on the  way t h i s information corresponds to the general evolutionary  theory.  Content i s seen as only of secondary importance, and i s often discarded altogether. Many forms of s t r u c t u r a l i s t analysis d i f f e r from the t e l e o l o g i c a l and diachronic p r i n c i p l e s of formalism in that they frequently h i s t o r y altogether.  disregard  They have been, in f a c t , c r i t i c i z e d for being  p r i m a r i l y synchronic rather than d i a c h r o n i c ; that i s , they view r e l a t i o n ships between terms in language systems (sculpture being considered here as a language system) as they e x i s t at one point in time, rather than as they evolved h i s t o r i c a l l y .  The general j u s t i f i c a t i o n  for this predilec-  t i o n i s that an i n d i v i d u a l using a language does not depend f o r his competence on a knowledge of the evolution of e i t h e r the terms he uses  7 or of t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s .  He only needs to know the immediate meaning  of the terms and the current syntax and grammar in order to use the language c o r r e c t l y .  He does not r e c a p i t u l a t e the h i s t o r i c a l  evolution  of the language each time he speaks, nor i s he generally intent on changing  it.  This i s not the case, however, with sculptors of the P a r i s i a n avant garde during the f i r s t decades of t h i s century.  A r t i s t s such as  Brancusi, who j o i n t e d the avant garde between 1907 and 1909, were very much aware of the h i s t o r i c a l evolution of t h e i r respective languages. They were, in f a c t , s e l f - c o n s c i o u s l y engaged in creating new vocabulari e s , syntaxes and  grammars of s c u l p t u r e .  As a consequence, the meaning  of i n d i v i d u a l works i s frequently derived from t h e i r h i s t o r i c r e l a t i o n ships to preceding works, and to the manner in which they altered the s c u l p t u r a l language.  Brancusi's K i s s , for example, gains much of i t s  meaning from i t s d i r e c t r e l a t i o n s h i p to an e a r l i e r work by Rodin of a s i m i l a r t i t l e and theme but of a completely d i f f e r e n t form.  Thus i t  is  necessary to i n c l u d e , and even emphasize aspects of both the general evolution of s c u l p t u r e , and of Brancusi's developing sculptural language in the present s t r u c t u r a l i s t a n a l y s i s .  The diachronic must here be  balanced with the synchronic. It would seem, then, that the s t r u c t u r a l i s t analysis to be employed here w i l l have to overlap somewhat with the diachronic f o r m a l i s t format.  The t e l e o l o g i c a l p r i n c i p l e of the l a t t e r distinguishes  however, from s t r u c t u r a l i s t premises. predetermined evolutionary models.  it,  These do not generally employ  Rather the evolution of terms in  8 language systems and of the r e l a t i o n s h i p s between them i s thought to be a r b i t r a r y , although t h e i r meaning i s conditioned by the society in which they are employed. The t e l e o l o g i c a l and exclusive p r i n c i p l e s of f o r m a l i s t discourse also condition the information employed.  The forms are seen as being  of most s i g n i f i c a n c e , hence the concept of " s i g n i f i c a n t form,"  This  a t t i t u d e towards form contains the primary difference which separates formalism and s t r u c t u r a l i s m , as applied to a r t .  A more extensive d i s -  cussion of the s t r u c t u r a l i s t paradigm and of the concept of a r t as a language system w i l l c l a r i f y t h i s d i s t i n c t i o n . S t r u c t u r a l i s t studies are designed to examine language systems. They examine both the elements or terms w i t h i n language systems and t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s to each other and the whole. The basic unit of any language system i s the s i g n .  Signs are  composed of two r e l a t e d p a r t s , the s i g n i f i e r and the s i g n i f i e d .  For  example, the word "head" i s a s i g n i f i e r , the object or concept to which i t refers —head—is what i t s i g n i f i e s , or the s i g n i f i e d .  It should be  noted that the r e l a t i o n s h i p between the form of the s i g n i f i e r and the s i g n i f i e d in a r t i c u l a t e d language i s a r b i t r a r y .  The word "head" i s in  no way dependent on the thing i t s i g n i f i e s ; i t may j u s t as e f f e c t i v e l y be " t e t e " or even "glom." Words are however not the only things which can s i g n i f y r e l a t i o n ships and thereby form language systems. are now recognized. symbolic meaning.  Non-verbal language systems  In f a c t , a l l aspects of culture s i g n i f y , and have C l o t h e s , f o r example, may s i g n i f y s o c i a l r e l a t i o n -  9 ships.  Information may be c o d i f i e d in them.  a language system.  As such they constitute  L^vi-Strauss i n d i c a t e s :  Le langage est l a plus p a r f a i t e de toutes les manifestations d'ordre c u l t u r e l qui forment, a un t i t r e ou & 1'autre, des systemes, et s i nous voulons comprendre ce que c ' e s t que 1 ' a r t , l a r e l i g i o n , le d r o i t , peut-§tre m§me l a c u i s i n e ou les r&gles de l a p o l i t e s s e , i l faut les concevoir comme des codes formes part 1 ' a r t i c u l a t i o n de s i g n e s , sur l e modele'de l a communication linguistique.3 As Ldvi-Strauss points out, a r t i s now considered to be a language system.  The vocabulary of s t r u c t u r a l i s m has been r e a d i l y , i f loosely  applied to a r t h i s t o r y .  Terms such as grammar, syntax, metonymic,  metaphoric, and paradigmatic are now embedded in a r t h i s t o r i c a l and c r i t i c a l discourse. Signs used i n a r t a r e , however, of a d i f f e r e n t order than those of a r t i c u l a t e d words, as a d i f f e r e n t r e l a t i o n s h i p occurs between the s i g n i f i e r and the s i g n i f i e d .  As Le"vi-Strauss points out:  " l e langage  a r t i c u l e est un systeme de signes a r b i t r a r i e s , sans rapport sensible avec les object q u ' i l se propose de s i g n i f i e r , tandis que, dans 1 ' a r t , une r e l a t i o n sensible continue d ' e x i s t e r entre le signe et 1 ' o b j e c t . " ^ This " r e l a t i o n s e n s i b l e " occurs in the f a c t that the object which s i g n i f i e s , that i s , the work of a r t , resembles the thing s i g n i f i e d . form i s not a r b i t r a r y .  Its  Le"vi-Strauss recognizes t h i s feature of  representational a r t : " . . . l e caractere p a r t i c u l i e r  du- langage de 1 ' a r t ,  c ' e s t q u ' i l e x i s t e toujours une homologie tr£s profonde entre l a structure 5 due signifie* et l a structure du s i g n i f i a n t . "  In the general taxonomy of  sign systems developed by P i e r c e , signs which look l i k e what they s i g n i f y are c a l l e d i c o n s . ^  10 The degree of resemblance i s of some importance in our a n a l y s i s . In f a c t , the s i g n i f i c a n c e of Brancusi's work often depends on how c l o s e l y i t a c t u a l l y resembles the object to which i t r e f e r s , o r , conversely, the degree to which i t i s abstracted and approaches the a r b i t r a r y of a r t i c u l a t e d language.  character  Brancusi's work thus stands somewhere between  words, which have a form that i s t o t a l l y a r b i t r a r y when compared with what they s i g n i f y , and t o t a l l y r e a l i s t i c sculpture which does i t s best to imitate p r e c i s e l y the forms of the object i t  represents.  This balance i s , in f a c t , e s s e n t i a l to understanding Brancusi's work as a system of s i g n s .  Levi-Strauss has s t a t e d :  Si l ' a r t £ t a i t une i m i t a t i o n complete de 1 ' o b j e c t , i l n ' a u r a i t plus le caractere de signe. Si bien que nous pouvons concevoir, me s e m b l e - t - i l , l ' a r t comme un systeme s i g n i f i c a t i f , ou un ensemble de systemes s i g n i f i c a n t i f s , mais qui reste toujours el mi-chemin entre le langage et 1'object.7 On the other hand, another semantic problem a r i s e s i f the work in question i s non-objective, s e l f - r e f e r e n t i a l , o r , i n a word, formal.  In  t h i s case the work i s not an icon or a sign in the l i n g u i s t i c sense as the r e l a t i o n s h i p between form and content and consequently between s i g n i f i e r and s i g n i f i e d has been broken.  Le*vi-Strauss has repeatedly  i n s i s t e d that a purely a b s t r a c t , f o r m a l i s t a r t does not constitute a language system since i t has l o s t i t s power of s i g n i f i c a t i o n . ' '  It  is  assumed t h a t , f o r L ^ v i - S t r a u s s , s i g n i f i c a n t form i s a contradiction  in  terms when taken i n a l i n g u i s t i c  9  sense.  It i s t h i s view of non-objective a r t that separates Le*vi-Strauss s t r u c t u r a l i s m from f o r m a l i s t a n a l y s i s .  1  Le*vi-Strauss claims that in  formalism, " . . . les deux domaines doivent § t r e absolument se"pare"s, car  11 [in the l a t t e r ] l a forme seule est i n t e l l i g i b l e , et le contenu n'est qu'un rdsidu ddpourvu de valeur s i g n i f i a n t e . cette opposition  n ' e x i s t e pas."  Pour le s t r u c t u r a l i s m e ,  Marc-Lipiansky comments t h a t , for  s t r u c t u r a l i s m , "forme et contenu e"tant de m§me nature, doivent § t r e soumis ci une m§me a n a l y s e . " ^ Although the opposition between non-representative a r t and s t r u c t u r a l i s m i s not as simple as Levi-Strauss states t h i s problem does not occur here.  A l l of Brancusi's stone works are representational and  s i g n i f y something d i r e c t l y through t h e i r resemblance to something other than themselves.  Brancusi '"always started out from some recognizable 8  image in n a t u r e ' "  although he also b e l i e v e d ' t h a t ' " a r t i s not copying  8a nature.'"  Brancusi himself was to say: "'They are fools who c a l l  my work abstract.  What they think to be abstract i s the most r e a l i s t i c ,  because what i s real i s not the outer form, but the i d e a , the essence of t h i n g s . "  | 8 b  This and Brancusi's careful s e l e c t i o n of t i t l e s i s proof enough that both content and form are i n t e g r a l parts of his conceptions. the analysis of content i s the more d i f f i c u l t .  Yet  The information i s less  immediately a v a i l a b l e , and often embedded i n the s o c i a l and h i s t o r i c a l context of the period i n which Brancusi was operating.  The problems  which may be involved i n , r e c o n s t r u c t i n g t h i s context can be made evident by a b r i e f reference to a s i n g l e example: Leda. denotes a character in c l a s s i c a l mythology. essential to the conception of the work. confirm t h i s .  The t i t l e d i r e c t l y  Aspects of t h i s myth are  Brancusi's recorded statements  Yet he recreated the myth in a p e c u l i a r and personal  12 fashion which must also be accounted f o r .  On another l e v e l , Leda  connotates a human/God transformed into a swan.  This transformation  between a tame water-bird and a man (or, in t h i s case, a woman) i s highly important.  Beyond t h a t , however, swans had a p a r t i c u l a r meaning at the  turn of the century i n French popular and f o l k c u l t u r e . the sculpture was also known as Fecundity.  Furthermore,  This t i t l e d i r e c t l y  refers  to a s p e c i f i c l i t e r a r y and c u l t u r a l source current during the time Brancusi was f i r s t developing his oeuvre. others must be accounted f o r .  A l l of these aspects and some  Such i s not only the case with Leda, but  with each of the works in the oeuvre.  As with the forms, c o n t i n u i t y and  v a r i a t i o n s i n content w i l l be explored i n the development of the various series.  Although t h i s has not been previously noted, i t w i l l be demon-  strated that the i n d i v i d u a l works are as much linked by content as by form. It i s , then, the form and the content combined which c o n s t i t u t e the components of the ' t e x t ' of Brancusi's i c o n i c s i g n i f i e r s .  It i s i n  turn in t h e i r broader s o c i a l and h i s t o r i c a l s e t t i n g , that i s , t h e i r functional response to t h e i r environment, that the i n d i v i d u a l works gain t h e i r meaning.  A s t r u c t u r a l i s t a n a l y s i s , unlike a f o r m a l i s t a n a l y s i s , i s  able to recognize content as related to the broader s o c i a l s i t u a t i o n . Indeed, Brancusi's forms and t i t l e s have denotations and connotations which may involve references to mythology, philosophy, technology, music, l i t e r a t u r e and p o l i t i c s .  The sources of his concerns almost always l i e ,  however, within the larger t o t a l i t y of the " c o l l e c t i v e consciousness" of the-avant garde.  In order to guard against excessively i m p r e s s i o n i s t i c  13 m i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s , a concensus of c r i t i c a l opinion as i t stands w i l l serve as the basis for decodifying the works.  currently Where t h i s  proves i n s u f f i c i e n t or can be demonstrated to be i n c o r r e c t , new d a t a , based on o r i g i n a l research i n t o primary sources, w i l l be added to establ i s h e d ideas or to resolve any c o n f l i c t s which may e x i s t . The purpose of t h i s study i s , then, to t r e a t Brancusi's stone work as a language system and to examine the i n t e r n a l l o g i c a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s but not in i s o l a t i o n from relevant external i n f l u e n c e s ; p r i m a r i l y the developfir ment of the avant garde i n P a r i s .  * Levi-Strauss has developed a s t r u c -  t u r a l i s t methodology f o r examining the r e l a t i o n s h i p s between units non-verbal language systems, s p e c i f i c a l l y as they apply to cultures.  in  primitive  The j u s t i f i c a t i o n f o r the a p p l i c a t i o n of t h i s paradigm to  Brancusi w i l l follow t h i s o u t l i n e of his methodology. In order to i n i t i a t e t h i s e x p l o r a t i o n , two things must be c l a r i f i e d : L e v i - S t r a u s s ' general precepts on the non-verbal language systems and his theories on how the r e l a t i o n s h i p s between units i n these systems work.  His theories r e s t on the basic premise that a l l  cultural  phenomena operate as secondary codes or non-verbal language systems which 9 contain and transmit information.  As such, the various features of  p r i m i t i v e c u l t u r e s , be they a r t i s t i c , m y t h o l o g i c a l , s o c i a l , ceremonial or economic, are ordered by rules of syntax and grammar w i t h i n the t o t a l (language) system.  The underlying structure (or syntax) of  "primitive"  thought, as expressed i n the complex r e l a t i o n s h i p s between c u l t u r a l f e a t u r e s , can then best be studied by adopting a formal t r a n s p o s i t i o n of the methodology and discourse of modern s t r u c t u r a l  linguistics.^  14 Indeed, Le'vi-Strauss acknowledges his debt to Fernand de Saussure, and borrowed many of his terms from the science of semiology. Levi-Strauss invokes the l i n g u i s t i c axiom which postulates that the meaning of any unit or sign in a language system can only be derived from an analysis of the place which i t occupies in the system and i t s  relation-  ship to other u n i t s . ^ If we lack knowledge of the t o t a l system and the r e l a t i o n s h i p s - between the terms or units,, the p a r t i c u l a r s i g n s , however graphic, w i l l  :  12 remain mute, and our knowledge fragmentary. Conversely, i f the r e l a t i o n s h i p s between the component parts are examined l i n g u i s t i c a l l y , one can achieve a c l e a r understanding of the operation of the t o t a l s y s t e m . ^  3  This has several i m p l i c a t i o n s .  It i s immediately evident that each unit which serves as a variant on a common theme, ( i . e . , a mythological story or kinship term, or in t h i s case, a sculpture) must be analyzed not only in terms of i t s own form and content, but also in r e l a t i o n to the other units i n the system and to the e n t i r e s e t .  It i s , in f a c t , the r e l a t i o n s h i p s between units  that i s s i g n i f i c a n t about them. In L e v i - S t r a u s s ' analysis of mythological systems, the constituent " u n i t s " of each myth are a r r i v e d at by breaking down i n d i v i d u a l myths into related p a r t s , c a l l e d "mythemes."  This i s a problematic process.  In B r a n c u s i ' s s c u l p t u r e , however, each u n i t , or s c u l p t u r e , . i s c l e a r l y defined as an e n t i t y .  The constituent " p a r t s " are embedded in the form  and content of each work.  15 Where various versions of mythological s t o r i e s occur, the parts that a r i s e most frequently in each are used as the s i g n i f i c a n t u n i t s . S i m i l a r l y , with Brancusi's s c u l p t u r e , where more than one version of a s i n g l e image occurs, the most s i g n i f i c a n t aspects are not l o s t .  As  Brancusi refined c e r t a i n works, such as the Kiss or Mile Pogany, each successive version maintained common features which preserved i t s crucial signification. Nonetheless, the i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the elements which make up the complex f a b r i c of meaning in any i c o n i c sigh i s a d i f f i c u l t process. Fortunately, in t h i s i n s t a n c e , Le*vi-Strauss' model provides a paradigm f o r the system that governs t h e i r combination, that i s , t h e i r syntax. L ^ v i - S t r a u s s ' research has indicated that the r e l a t i o n s h i p s between parts of a c u l t u r a l whole have a special nature in thought.  "primitive"  In f a c t , he postulates that the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c operations of  " p r i m i t i v e " thought are binary and e m p i r i c a l .  That i s to say, "prim-  i t i v e " thinkers e s t a b l i s h categories and c l a s s i f i c a t i o n s based on observed contrasts in the sensory q u a l i t i e s of concrete o b j e c t s .  These  i n c l u d e , f o r example, the differences between the raw and the cooked, l i g h t and darkness, animality and humanity, male and female, the l i v i n g and the dead, and nature and c u l t u r e .  The basic a b s t r a c t , philosophical  and psychological problem of " p r i m i t i v e " thought i s to codify and categorize these o p p o s i t i o n s , and where l o g i c a l inconsistencies or cont r a d i c t i o n s e x i s t between accepted b e l i e f s or desires and observable d a t a , to r e c o n c i l e , overcome or conceal them i f p o s s i b l e .  Ldvi-Strauss  terms t h i s operation "concrete l o g i c , " and separates i t from modern  16 s c i e n t i f i c l o g i c , although he believes t h a t , at times and in c e r t a i n p l a c e s , the two can c o - e x i s t . The binary oppositions of "concrete l o g i c " form conceptual tools with which to elaborate abstract ideas and combine them i n propositions which are embedded i n c u l t u r a l phenomena, such as mythological systems. 13 These r e l a t i o n s h i p s e s t a b l i s h man's place in r e a l i t y .  Levi-Strauss'  a n a l y s i s indicates that such a system has a l o g i c a l form.  In a d d i t i o n ,  when presented as a related t o t a l i t y , i t can be seen to embody a c o d i f i e d system of ideas not n e c e s s a r i l y inherent i n any one u n i t .  These c o d i f i e d  messages frequently allow c e r t a i n unpleasant truths about r e a l i t y  to  become p a l a t a b l e , or c e r t a i n i n t e r n a l c u l t u r a l contradictions to be surmounted, or they simply serve to codify.and organize information about the u n i v e r s e . ^  As binary oppositions can be represented graph-  i c a l l y , the underlying structure of the t o t a l system can be seen as a matrix which i s generally grouped around a s i n g l e or double a x i s , with a polar opposition at e i t h e r end. The r e l a t i o n s h i p s between the units are generally based on e i t h e r o p p o s i t i o n s , transformations or p a r a l l e l s between the u n i t s .  The  l o g i c a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s between the u n i t s , being l i n g u i s t i c in nature, can be e i t h e r metaphorical, that i s r e l a t e d by a recognition of  similarity,  or metonymical, that i s r e l a t e d by a recognition of c o n t i g u i t y , or cause and e f f e c t .  When taken as a whole, the units form metaphorical or  metonymical chains or s e r i e s . It remains to be seen how L e v i - S t r a u s s ' theories as described above, on ' p r i m i t i v e '  thought or 'concrete l o g i c ' and t h e i r manifesta-  17 tions can be used to f u r t h e r our understanding and i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s Brancusi's i n d i v i d u a l works and his oeuvre as a whole. which Le'vi-Strauss claims are fundamental to ' p r i m i t i v e '  of  The features thought have  been observed by various commentators as present in Brancusi's work, but outside of a s t r u c t u r a l i s t a n a l y s i s . ology has been employed.  In each case, a d i f f e r e n t  termin-  The central feature of "concrete l o g i c " as  described by L e v i - S t r a u s s , that i s , the r e c o n c i l i a t i o n of c o n f l i c t i n g d u a l i t i e s observable in the empirical world, has long been recognized as an e s s e n t i a l part of Brancusi's work and even of his l i f e .  On the most  fundamental l e v e l , Jianou has pointed out the r e c o n c i l i a t i o n between 15 nature and a r t i n Brancusi's work. David Lewis, in his monograph on B r a n c u s i , noted of the sculpture in general that "Often . . . the idea was simultaneously, one of r a d i a t i o n and power, and of i n f i n i t e cool t r a n q u i l i t y ;  a blending of opposites  into u n i t y , of d i s c i p l i n e and freedom, of soaring energy and timeless serenity."^  He elaborated on t h i s theme i n terms of Brancusi's peasant  background and his p o s i t i o n as the founder of modern s c u l p t u r e . applied i t to i n d i v i d u a l works.  He also  Of the Montparnasse K i s s , for example,  he s a i d : Brancusi presents us with the dualism . . . o f the l o v e r s ' own unique moment of s e l f l e s s innocent intimacy and oneness, forehead and body: and yet also the reverse of t h i s , i t s non-uniqueness, i ts general i t y . . . . He continues: Brancusi i s presenting other dualisms too. He presents death and l i f e as an inseparable duality—two opposites, man and woman, each defining the other: and death giving a sense of past and f u t u r e , of the c o n t r i b u t i o n of the past to the continuity of l i f e , of the  18 triumph of l i f e and love over death; f o r in his stone maguette f o r The Kiss . . . the woman w i t h i n the embrace i s pregnant.?7 Although disagreeing with the i n t e r p r e t a t i o n  of the female as pregnant,  Sidney Geist confirmed Lewis's observation on the Kiss when he stated that  " . . .  t h i s image of two figures locked in an embrace i s a  permanent expression of the unity of l o v e , which Plato c a l l e d 'the desire and pursuit of the w h o l e ' . " Geist also observed the presence of purposely u n i f i e d opposites in other works  by Brancusi.  In his a n a l y s i s of the Monuments at Tirgo  J i u he interpreted the design on the uprights of the Gate as representing a conjunction of symbols f o r male and female g e n i t a l i a . The theme of the Gate i s love and community, upheld by sexual energy. The c i r c u l a r motifs on the columns j o i n the t a l l curved planes immediately below to make a magical image of merged male and female g e n i t a l s . . . . When the American sculptor Malvina Hoffman v i s i t e d Brancusi i n the f a l l of 1938, on the eve of his departure f o r Rumania to attend the inauguration of the monument at Tirgu J i u , he asked her what she saw in the p l a s t e r models of the columns. "I see the forms of two c e l l s that meet and create l i f e , " she s a i d . "The beginning of l i f e . . . [ s i c ] through love. Am I r i g h t ? " " Y e s , you a r e , " said Brancusi.19 Elsewhere, Geist wrote of the Gate, "In i t s l i t e r a l  and symbolic imagery,  20 i t merges the female Table and p h a l l i c Column." Beyond e r o t i c i s m , and the opposition of the sexes, B r a n c u s i ' s works have been observed to contain other d u a l i t i e s .  G e i s t , for example, i n t e r 21  preted the Endless Column as a " s a c r a l l i n k between heaven and e a r t h . " Boime regards the Bird in F l i g h t and the egg shaped Sculpture f o r the B l i n d as p o s i t i n g "transcendental states of embryonism and ascension. Escape from self-consciousness i s i d e n t i c a l with the unborn s t a t e ; achieving oneness with the universe i s l i k e recovering the i n d i v i s i b l e unity of  19 the e g g . "  -  Geist also applied ' s i m i l a r concepts to the formal q u a l i t i e s of the oeuvre as a whole, and to Brancusi's use of time: This f r i c t i o n of d i f f e r e n t times — l i k e the confrontation in his work of object and essence, of weight and l i g h t n e s s , of density and transparency, of order and a c c i d e n t , of the brandnew and the eternal — i s another instance of Brancusi having i t both ways.23 For both Geist and o t h e r s , Brancusi's very existence as a pri-mitive i n P a r i s , represented an opposition which had to be overcome. His peasant o r i g i n s and eventual urbanism made Brancusi the natural arena of a struggle between t r a d i t i o n a l and r a t i o n a l modes of behavior. . . . For the most part i t i s resolved in the j o i n i n g of opposed forces to each other i n the sculpture i t s e l f . 24 Lewis s t a t e d : He did not turn his back on the present i n his detachment but sought, w i t h i n the s w i f t changes, the uprootedness and fragmentariness of modern l i f e , a constancy of values. His s o l u t i o n to the problem of opposites which were i m p l i c i t l y i n his own l i f e — Brancusi the man of the e a r t h , born a peasant in Roumania, close to nature, and Brancusi the thoughtful a r t i s t of the twentieth century i n search of s p i r i t u a l s t a b i l i t y — i s not the l e a s t i n s p i r i n g facet of his contribution.25 L a t e r , i n the same t e x t , Lewis was to say, " f o r B r a n c u s i , to combine 26 opposing elements into unity had s p e c i a l s i g n i f i c a n c e s . " The study of these s i g n i f i c a n c e s w i l l form the major focus of t h i s paper. The presence of u n i f i e d d u a l i t i e s i s , however, only one part of Levi-Strauss'  theories.  The other, as has been s a i d , i s that the whole  function as a coherent, systematized language. t h i s requirement as w e l l .  Brancusi's oeuvre  fulfills  20 Almost a l l students of Brancusi have observed, e i t h e r through i n t u i t i v e or empirical evidence, that Brancusi's oeuvre constitutes a closed system of i n t e r r e l a t e d units with a coherent syntax s i m i l a r to that of language.  This i s , in less precise a r t h i s t o r i c a l terms, usually  referred to as an "universe of s c u l p t u r a l forms." Ionel Jianou presented t h i s idea in the f i r s t sentence of his study of Brancusi's work:  " B r a n c u s i ' s art forms a v a s t , coherent,  27 u n i f i e d whole." Sidney G e i s t , who c r i t i z e d many other aspects of Jianou's work, e s s e n t i a l l y agrees with J i a n o u ' s evaluation and hinted at i t in his early studies of B r a n c u s i , but did not at that point state i t e x p l i c i t l y .  In  the introduction to his 1968 study, Geist stated that It [ G e i s t ' s study] reveals an a r t i s t of imposing i n t e l l e c t u a l i t y — a f a c t which has been suspected, hinted a t , but not demonstrated; i t reveals a body of work whose inner r e l a t i o n s make i t appear a t i g h t l y reasoned essay in the problems and problematics of s c u l p t u r e . 28 Geist also observed the l i n k in Brancusi to language, comparing h i s . t o Gertrude S t e i n :  "The concern over beginnings led Gertrude Stein to an  examination of words, verbal r e l a t i o n s , and the very parts of speech; 29  it  led Brancusi to f i n d a c l e a r and l i m i t e d s c u l p t u r a l syntax." Most important, Geist noted the r e l a t i o n s h i p s between the pieces and the necessity of viewing them together rather than s i n g l y : Seen s i n g l y , most of Brancusi's sculptures are g e n t l e , quiet and undeclamatory; they need one another, and numbers enhance t h e i r e f f e c t i v e n e s s . The concern f o r the r e l a t i o n between his pieces i s mirrored by his concern f o r the r e l a t i o n between any s i n g l e piece and the world: in t h i s r e l a t i o n the pedestal i s the mediating factor.30  21 In the opening sentence to the Guggenheim catalogue f o r the Brancusi retrospective of 1979, Geist r e - e s t a b l i s h e d the p r i n c i p l e that Brancusi's work must be viewed as a t o t a l i t y , and that an understanding of the r e l a t i o n s h i p s between the parts i s necessary to comprehend each unit.  "It  [the retrospective]  should warn us of the e r r o r of taking any  part for the whole; i t may even make c l e a r that there i s a whole here 31 that needs a l l the p a r t s . " In a section which i s worth quoting e x t e n s i v e l y , Geist elaborated on the implications of such an oeuvre. The conviction develops that the oeuvre i s shaped and c o n t r o l l e d as c a r e f u l l y as any of i t s p a r t s . It i s almost as d i f f i c u l t to consider i n i s o l a t i o n a s i n g l e work as i t i s to consider a part of any s c u l p t u r e . The sense of an a r t i s t i c universe i s enforced by the scope and the gamut of formal concern. . . . The sense of. a norm, of a pervasive evenness, i s what one would expect of an e f f o r t to project a continuous f i e l d . The creation of a u n i f i e d oeuvre would be an achievement unique in the h i s t o r y of these matters. How, one wonders, would an a r t i s t go about planning i t ? There i s no evidence to think t h a t , in t h i s sense, Brancusi began with a p l a n , nor i s i t easy to imagine how a l i f e ' s work of the complexity of Brancusi's could be conceived i n advance. But we may imagine the.oeuvre slowly taking shape, at f i r s t without and then with the conscious d i r e c t i o n of the s c u l p t o r . To show that Brancusi was conscious, at l e a s t l a t e r , of the d i r e c t i o n of his oeuvre, Geist quotes a statement made by the a r t i s t to Ezra Pound:  "Toutes mes sculptures datent de quinze a n s . "  33  This study w i l l be devoted to p r e c i s e l y these problems.  It  will  demonstrate how Brancusi developed the oeuvre, and also i n d i c a t e that much of i t may have been, as Brancusi's quote i n d i c a t e s , planned at one c r u c i a l period of i n s p i r a t i o n , from about 1908-1912.  It w i l l also show  how e a r l y works necessitated the creation of l a t e r conceptions and how  22 the units of the whole were established through careful control of a l l the r e l a t i o n s h i p s w i t h i n the e n t i r e oeuvre, so that no piece may be thought of separately and everything has i t s proper p l a c e . Having observed, as others had done, that Brancusi's oeuvre represents a c l o s e l y reasoned, coherent s c u l p t u r a l system or " u n i v e r s e , " Geist advanced to an analysis of the c a t e g o r i e s , or s e r i e s , operating within i t .  That i s to say, he found what, in s t r u c t u r a l i s t  terminology,  are the metonyrtiical and metaphorical chains operating within the t o t a l language system.  In a s i m i l a r f a s h i o n , Spear analyses the Bird s e r i e s 34  running from the Maistra to the Birds in Space. done outside of a s t r u c t u r a l i s t a n a l y s i s . ology of l i n g u i s t i c s t u d i e s .  Both studies were  Neither refers to the method-  As s h a l l be seen, however, Spear's work i s  f o r various reasons more successful and complete than G e i s t ' s .  It  is  G e i s t , however, who noted the important f a c t that the s e r i e s e x i s t i n r e l a t i o n s h i p to one another. In the Guggenheim catalogue, Geist made several statements, which he l a t e r repeated in his major book on Brancusi on the existence and importance of the s e r i e s . Only r a r e l y i s Brancusi content with a unique expression: he has favored themes which he pursues i n s e r i e s . . . . The series of the Birds makes i t s way from a s t y l i z e d representation with mytho l o g i c a l reference to an ..image of s p i r i t u a l f l i g h t . Sleeping Muse, a v i r t u a l p o r t r a i t , i n i t i a t e s a s e r i e s that moves from a representation of personal sleep to a v i s i o n of universal s l e e p : Beginning of the World. . . . Working in s e r i e s frees Brancusi from the demands of constant invention and gives his workj-a unity and c o n t i n u i t y not at a l l at odds with i t s d i v e r s i t y . Geist elaborates:  23 It has been evident f o r some time that the sculpture of Brancusi i s strung out in thematic s e r i e s , and that these themes are both formal and i c o n i c . It i s a l s o evident that these s e r i e s cross and recross and that c e r t a i n sculptures are then the nodes through which two or more themes pass.36 The l a s t two statements are worth examining. the basis of the s e r i e s i s both formal and i c o n i c .  Geist confirms that His subsequent  elaboration on the s e r i e s in the Abrams text i s , however, almost e x c l u s i v e l y based on formal or metaphoric s i m i l a r i t i e s .  This formal b i a s ,  a t t r i b u t a b l e to the period and t r a d i t i o n i n which he i s w r i t i n g , has led him to overlook important thematic or metonymic r e l a t i o n s h i p s between Brancusi's pieces and to l i n k others which are only marginally connected. S t a r t i n g with some c h i l d r e n ' s heads and progressing through Sleeping Muse, Prometheus, Sculpture f o r the B l i n d and Cup, Brancusi made a number of o v o i d a l , q u a s i - s p h e r i c a l , and hemi-spherical sculptures . . .37 While these sculptures do form a category in c e r t a i n r e s p e c t s , l i n k i n g the hemispherical (except f o r the handle) Cup to a s e r i e s of ovoidal heads seems dubious when aspects of the s c u l p t u r e s ' content are taken i n t o account.  For example, a p a r a l l e l s i t u a t i o n on a verbal level would  involve l i n k i n g the words poppy, peony, pansy and puppy because they a l l begin with p and end with y .  They seem to constitute a s e r i e s when only  the form of the s i g n i f i e r s i s compared.  Yet when what they s i g n i f y i s  examined i t i s evident that puppy i s the odd man out.  So with the Cup.  Formal s i m i l a r i t i e s also caused Geist to j o i n the M a i a s t r a , Chimera, A r c h i t e c t u r a l P r o j e c t , Exotic P l a n t , Adam and Eve, P o r t r a i t of Mrs. Eugene Meyer, J r . , and Boundary Marker in a s e r i e s ; they a l l involve "the superimposition of a number of o b j e c t s . "  38  The l i n k i s e n t i c i n g ,  24 but again does not take into account the d i s p a r i t y in t h e i r themes, or what they s i g n i f y . This omission, in t u r n , has led Geist to see the various s e r i e s as 39 crossing and r e - c r o s s i n g randomly.  Many of the categories Geist has  proposed l i k e those above are l i n k e d only by formal s i m i l a r i t i e s and disrupted by unaccounted differences in t h e i r other aspects.  This i s  not i n harmony with his e a r l i e r assertion of i n t e r n a l order, c l a r i t y and coherence, but speaks rather of confusion.  It seems that a s t r i c t l y  formal methodology i s then inadequate to explain the s e r i e s in Brancusi's work.  Nonetheless, the recognition that r a t i o n a l categories do e x i s t  was a major c o n t r i b u t i o n , and i n i t i a t e d the process of e s t a b l i s h i n g an order where none had been seen before. A s t r u c t u r a l i s t a n a l y s i s , based on an analysis of both form and content in order to e s t a b l i s h the related works in each s e r i e s , shows that G e i s t ' s o r i g i n a l i n t u i t i v e impression of coherency and r a t i o n a l i t y i s more correct than he would r e a l i z e , as i s his observation that c e r t a i n sculptures serve as the nodes through which various s e r i e s pass, and that the s e r i e s are coherently r e l a t e d . Indeed, as has been pointed out, the c a t e g o r i z a t i o n of Brancusi's work as units which occur in s e r i e s or semantic chains that are coherently related to each other and in which information i s c o d i f i e d , i s fundamental to a s t r u c t u r a l i s t a n a l y s i s .  The placement of these related  units has always been problematic in L e v i - S t r a u s s  1  work.  To ensure  that the process i s c a r r i e d out here in as objective a manner as p o s s i b l e , two c r i t e r i a must be met.  As c l o s e l y as p o s s i b l e , those s e r i e s  25 established by G e i s t , Spear and others which l i n k formal and thematic p r i n c i p l e s w i l l be employed.  For example, David Lewis has pointed out  the formation of a thematic and formal series running from the Muse to Prometheus to the Newborn to the Sculpture f o r the B l i n d which Geist has 40 also confirmed.  Spear's c a r e f u l l y documented s e r i e s of Birds w i l l be  followed p r e c i s e l y ; i t works because of her s c h o l a r l y exploration of various l e v e l s of s i g n i f i c a t i o n , i n c l u d i n g m y t h o l o g i c a l , formal and biographical content.  Thus Leda and the Penguins, although b i r d or  b i r d - l i k e , w i l l be placed in another category and grouped with the sculpture of animal subjects.  Both Spear and Geist have recognized t h i s  l a t t e r series as e x i s t i n g separately.  As a f u r t h e r safeguard against  excesses of subjective i n t e r p r e t a t i o n , chronological sequence w i l l be used throughout. The presence in Brancusi's oeuvre of the fundamental elements used in a s t r u c t u r a l i s t analysis i n d i c a t e that a s t r u c t u r a l i s t methodology would be useful in c l a r i f y i n g i t in terms of the semantic r e l a t i o n s between the i n d i v i d u a l works, the s e r i e s and the system as a whole. This i s not, however, s u f f i c i e n t to j u s t i f y the a p p l i c a t i o n of L e v i - S t r a u s s ' concepts to the sculpture or the s c u l p t o r . methodology applied l a r g e l y to the analysis of " p r i m i t i v e " i t s s t r u c t u r e s , not those of modern man.  Le"vi-Strauss' thought and  Brancusi can be seen, however,  to have much i n common with the former. His early background was spent in what William Tucker has described as " . . . one of the most remote 41 and backward corners of Europe." i t was p r i m i t i v e .  This area was not j u s t p r o v i n c i a l ,  Here, Brancusi would be immersed i n f o l k l o r e and  26 f o l k ways from his e a r l i e s t years to late adolescence.  It i s often  stated that one of the primary differences between f o l k culture and modern society i s based on the l a t t e r ' s history—its  literateness.  a b i l i t y to write and record i t s  B r a n c u s i , according to Tucker, "could neither  read nor write u n t i l he entered the School of Arts and Crafts at Craiova 42 in 1895,"  when he was eighteen.  Brancusi was not subject to the  primary education which d i f f e r e n t i a t e s  modern man from " p r i m i t i v e " man.  It would seem then, that Brancusi would have ample time f o r developing " p r i m i t i v e " thought patterns. not.  Indeed, i t would be s u r p r i s i n g i f he had  In f a c t , i t i s Brancusi's p r i m i t i v e peasant background to which  a l l w r i t e r s refer when explaining his unique contribution to sculpture. Unfortunately, t h i s aspect of Brancusi's l i f e has been romanticized by such people as Peter Neagoe in his biographical n o v e l , The Saint of 43 Montparnasse.  Brancusi himself n o s t a l g i c a l l y altered many of the d e t a i l s  of his peasant " p r i m i t i v e " background.  Nonetheless, " p r i m i t i v e " ,  in  L e v i - S t r a u s s ' sense of the work, i s the f i r s t c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n of 43 Brancusi's thought.  The emphasis on the i n t e l l e c t u a l  i s not out of  p l a c e , since the r e c o n c i l i a t i o n of idea and material expression has long been noted as fundamental to an understanding of Brancusi s work, some1  thing he himself frequently underlined.  It w i l l be shown that t h i s  observation i s i n f a c t c o r r e c t , and that Brancusi's works are not only beautiful to observe but a l s o , to c i t e L e v i - S t r a u s s , "bonne a" penser." Assuming that L e v i - S t r a u s s ' theories on the nature of  "primitive"  thought are v a l i d , and that the observations of G e i s t , J i a n o u , Spear e t . a l . on the i n t e r n a l coherence of Brancusi's system have a basis in  27 f a c t , then an a p p l i c a t i o n of s t r u c t u r a l i s t p r i n c i p l e s i s not only j u s t i f i e d but o b l i g a t o r y .  It has, in f a c t , already occurred, a l b e i t i n a  fragmentary and i n s u f f i c i e n t f a s h i o n . Jack Burnham's seminal work, The Structure of A r t , and his b r i e f analysis of some of the dualisms i n Brancusi's Leda have already been mentioned and c r i t i c i z e d . ^ But aside from his use of only one work, i t appears i n retrospect that another of Burnham's basic premises may have been in e r r o r . Burnham's work, l i k e the present study, included the " S t r u c t u r a l 45 Anthropology of Claude Le"vi-Strauss and semiological a n a l y s i s . " on c l o s e r examination, i t appears that Burnham has d i s t o r t e d i f  But, not  completely v i o l a t e d one of L e v i - S t r a u s s ' fundamental p r i n c i p l e s . Burnham's study "assumes that the h i s t o r i c a l notion of art i s based on a mythic structure (consequently l o g i c a l within the confines of the s t r u c t u r e ) , and that a r t functions as an evolving sign system with the 46 same f l e x i b i l i t y  i n the usage of signs enjoyed by any language."  Although the l a t t e r part of the proposition i s c o r r e c t , the f i r s t assumption which equates the h i s t o r i c a l notion of art with a mythic structure has no basis in L d v i - S t r a u s s t h e o r i e s . 1  Levi-Strauss has  continuously asserted that mythic systems are exclusive to s o - c a l l e d " p r i m i t i v e " thinkers and s o c i e t i e s .  Furthermore, in Le"vi-Strauss' view, 47  h i s t o r y and p r i m i t i v e mythic systems are a n t i t h e t i c a l .  The presence  of e i t h e r d i s t i n g u i s h e s between " p r i m i t i v e " and modern " s c i e n t i f i c " thought, although he admits that at times, and under c e r t a i n exceptional 48 c o n d i t i o n s , the two may overlap. Yet Burnham d e l i b e r a t e l y blurs the  28 d i s t i n c t i o n between what he sees as the contemporary "mythologies" of modern man, such as e i t h e r art or a r t h i s t o r y , and the mythic structures of p r i m i t i v e t h i n k e r s .  For example, he opens his discussion on  Levi-Strauss with the statement:  "Central to Claude L e v i - S t r a u s s  1  concept of Structural Anthropology i s his premise that unconscious mental processes remain f i x e d f o r a l l c u l t u r e , ' p r i m i t i v e '  and  49 literate alike."  This does violence to L£vi-Strauss' i d e a s , which  separate p r i m i t i v e and l i t e r a t e t h i n k e r s .  Burnham, in f a c t , openly  disputes " L ^ v i - S t r a u s s ' propensity f o r conceptually separating science and myth" and postulates that " . . . 50 sophisticated mythic form."  science i s more probably a  The premise that science i s myth, foreign  to L e v i - S t r a u s s , leaves Burnham open to claim that art h i s t o r y i s also a mythological s t r u c t u r e .  In f a c t , neither s c i e n t i f i c thought nor art  h i s t o r y a r e , nor function l i k e , mythologies. Burnham i s , in f a c t , aware of t h i s .  In his chapter on "Art  History as a Mythic Form" he s t a t e s : For Levi-Strauss at l e a s t , i t i s questionable that a diachronic [ i . e . , modern] culture can sustain myth, since the longevity of myths depends upon s o c i a l structures where events are r e p e t i t i v e and unchanging, thus p s y c h i c a l l y and i n t e l l e c t u a l l y the same. H i s t o r y - o r i e n t e d s o c i e t i e s appear to lack the foundation f o r a s t a b l e mythic structure."51 Yet Burnham again d i s t o r t s Le"vi-Strauss' view by adding "However LSvi-Strauss i s quite aware that myths do e x i s t i n l i t e r a t e s o c i e t i e s , and suggests that we have j u s t begun to detect the mechanisms by which 52 they operate." unfounded.  The l a t t e r part of t h i s statement i s , however,  Indeed, in a l a t e r study, in which he abandoned almost a l l  of L e v i - S t r a u s s ' methodologies, Burnham confirmed the  incompatibility  29 of t h e i r respective approaches:  "Diverging somewhat from L e v i - S t r a u s s '  theory, I have e a r l i e r suggested in The Structure of Art that the balance between the diachronic and the synchronic i s the key to a l l 53 conceptions of a r t . "  It would seem, however, that one must take the  whole theory or leave i t alone. Yet despite the f a c t that a r t h i s t o r y , being irrevocably d i a c h r o n i c , i s not subject to L e v i - S t r a u s s ' s t r u c t u r a l i s t t h e o r i e s , that which  it  examines may be. As Levi-Strauss s t a t e s : . . . there are s t i l l zones in which savage thought, l i k e savage s p e c i e s , i s r e l a t i v e l y protected. This i s the' case of a r t , to which our c i v i l i z a t i o n accords the status of a national park, with a l l the advantages and inconveniences attending so a r t i f i c i a l a formula; and i t i s p a r t i c u l a r l y the case of so many as yet "uncleared" sectors of s o c i a l l i f e , where, through i n d i f f e r e n c e or i n a b i l i t y , and most often without our knowing why, p r i m i t i v e thought continues to f l o u r i s h . 5 4 Br.ancusi was i n f a c t one such t h i n k e r .  It remains the premise of t h i s  study that Brancusi's stone oeuvre, a f t e r 1908, was both a new personal s c u l p t u r a l language, and a personal ' m y t h o l o g i c a l ' system.  Consequently,  L e v i - S t r a u s s ' paradigm i s the only methodology which w i l l bring the underlying structure of t h i s system to  light.  30 Footnotes:  Chapter I  1.  G e i s t , 1968; and Sidney G e i s t , Brancusi: The Sculpture and Drawings (New York: Abrams, 1975). (Hereafter c i t e d as G e i s t , 1975.)  2.  S t r i c t l y speaking, Geist i s not a " f o r m a l i s t , " as the term is understood today. His recent study of the K i s s , Sidney G e i s t , Brancusi/The Kiss (New York: Harper and Row 1978), (hereafter c i t e d as G e i s t , 1978), f o r example, indicates that he finds much of value beyond the forms of the work, including i t s i d e o l o g i c a l and semantic content. This study i s , however, .a r a d i c a l departure from much of his e a r l i e r work.  3.  L e v i - S t r a u s s , c i t e d in George Charbonnier, Entretiens avec Levi-Strauss ( P a r i s : Rene J u l l i a r d et L i b r a r i e PI on, 1961), p. 184.  4.  I b i d . , p. 133.  5.  I b i d . , p. 108.  6.  C f . , Rosalind Krauss, "Nightwalkers," i n Art J o u r n a l , S p r i n g , 1981, p. 35.  7.  L e v i - S t r a u s s , c i t e d in op. c i t . p. 131.  7a.  For a f u r t h e r discussion see M i r e i l l e Marc-Li piansky, Le structuralisme de Levi-Strauss ( P a r i s : Payot, 1973), pp. 287-288.  7b.  I b i d . , p. 295.  8.  B r a n c u s i , c i t e d i n Isamu Noguchi, A S c u l p t o r ' s World (New York: Harper and Row, 1968), p. 18.  8a.  Brancusi, c i t e d in G e i s t , 1968, p. 143.  8b.  B r a n c u s i , c i t e d i n i b i d . , p. 146.  8c.  These two areas correspond to the d i v i s i o n between Sens and S i g n i f i c a t i o n . As Shalvey e x p l a i n s , "Sens i s an internal sense . . .. and i s i d e n t i c a l to the function of the word w i t h i n the language. Language i s viewed as a system defined by internal d i f f e r e n c e s , not by r e l a t i o n s to external objects. Here i t i s the combination of the elements w i t h i n the system that i s the bearer of the i n t e r n a l meaning. S i g n i f i c a t i o n leads out of the system, to the mind of the hearer or the speaker." Thomas Shalvey, Claude Levi-Strauss Social Psychotherapy and the C o l l e c t i v e Unconscious (Amherst: U n i v e r s i t y of Massachusetts Press, 1979), Note 7, p. 142.  31 9.  L£vi-Strauss, The Raw and the Cooked (New York: Harper and Row, 1975), p. 12.  10.  L e v i - S t r a u s s , Structural Anthropology (New York: Basic Books, 1963), p.- 39.  11.  I b i d . , p. 390. See also George S t e i n e r , Language and Silence (Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Books, 1969), p. 257.  12.  S t e i n e r , p. 251.  12a.  "In Brancusi the paucity of elements, t h e i r c l a r i t y and the c l a r i t y of t h e i r a r t i c u l a t i o n , t h e i r r e p e t i t i o n (when i t o c c u r s ) , and t h e i r differences create a t i g h t system and a t o t a l image which i n s c r i b e themselves on the memory. The mnemonic i s c a r r i e d to an absolute point since i t i s possible to see a l l and remember a l l with a minimal expenditure of e f f o r t ; memory i s f i x e d by the ravishing surface and sustained by a p a r a l l e l memory of the w o r l d . " G e i s t , 1968, p. 174.  13.  S t e i n e r , p. 252.  14.  Robert Scholes, Structuralism in L i t e r a t u r e (New Haven: Yale University P r e s s , 1974), pp. 67-69. ~  15.  Ionel J i a n o u , Brancusi (New York: Tudor, 1963), pp. 14-15, and passim.  16.  David Lewis, Constantin Brancusi (London: T i r a n t i , 1957), p. 3.  17.  I b i d . , p. 12.  18.  G e i s t , 1968, p. 37.  19.  G e i s t , 1978, p. 76.  20.  Sidney G e i s t , "The C e n t r a l i t y of the Gate," Artforum, October, 1973, p. 27. Many other d u a l i t i e s of a sexual nature have been observed in Brancusi's work. The scandal surrounding the exhibi t i o n of Princess X at the Salon des Independants in 1920 i s one example of i t s public r e c o g n i t i o n . See a l s o , Rosalind Krauss, Passages i n Modern Sculpture (New York: Viking Press, 1977), p. 100, and Albert Boime, "Brancusi i n New York, 0b Ovo Ad I n f i n i t u m , " Burlington Magazine, March, 1970, pp. 332-336.  32  21.  Geist, "Centrality,"  p. 77.  22.  Boime, p. 334.  23.  G e i s t , 1968, p. 172.  24.  I b i d . , p. 181.-  25.  Lewis, pp. 8-9.  26.  I b i d . , p. 20.  27.  J i a n o u , p. 62.  28.  G e i s t , 1968, p.  29.  I b i d . , p. 141.  30.  G e i s t , 1968, p. 168.  31.  Sidney G e i s t , Constantin Brancusi 1876-1957, a retrospective exhibiti.on (New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim, 1969), p. 11. (Hereafter c i t e d as G e i s t , 1969)  32.  I b i d . , p. 23.  33.  Brancusi, as said to Ezra Pound, c i t e d in G e i s t , 1975, p. 29.  34.  Athena Spear, Brancusi's Birds (New York: College Art of America, 1969)..  35.  G e i s t , 1969, p. 15.  36.  I b i d . , p. 23.  37.  G e i s t , 1975, p. 25.  38.  I b i d . , p. 26. "An important s e r i e s — s o s m a l l , so diverse in subject, so spread out in time as not to appear to be a s e r i e s i s one comprised of the Sorceress (1916) [wood], Torso of a Young Man, the Turtle in wood and the Turtle in marble (1945). . . these works are concerned with formal complexity." G e i s t , 1969, p. 22. See also pp. 20-24 f o r other series that Geist proposes.  39.  G e i s t , 1975, p. 28.  iii.  Association  33 40.  Lewis, p. 17.  41.  William Tucker, Early Modern Sculpture (New York: Oxford U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1974), p. 41. See also Boime.  42.  I b i d . For a discussion of the importance of w r i t i n g i n the d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n of modern and " p r i m i t i v e " thought, see Charbonnier, pp. 28-30. See a l s o : "The way of thinking among people we c a l l , usually wrongly, ' p r i m i t i v e ' — l e t ' s describe them rather 'without w r i t i n g , ' because I think t h i s i s r e a l l y the d i s c r i m i n a t i n g factor." L ^ v i - S t r a u s s , Myth and Meaning (Toronto: U n i v e r s i t y of Toronto Press, 1978), p. 15.  43.  Peter Neagoe, The Saint of Montparnasse ( P h i l a d e l p h i a : Chilton Books, 1965).  44.  Jack Burnham, p. 3.  45.  . I b i d . , pp. 92-93.  46.  I b i d . , p. 3.  47.  " . . . je ne veux pas dire qu'absolument, les socie'te's p r i m i t i v e s n'ont pas de passe\ mais que les membres de ces socie'te's n'eprouvement pas l e besoin d'ihvoquer l a cate"gorie de l ' h i s t o i r e ; pour eux, e l l e est vide de dens puisque, dans l a mesure ou quelque chose n'a pas toujours e x i s t s , ce quelque chose est i l l e g i t i m e S leurs yeux, tandis que pour nous, c ' e s t le c o n t r a i r e . " L£vi-Strauss in Charbonnier, pp. 61-62.  48.  Claude L d v i - S t r a u s s , The Savage Mind (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966), pp. 1-33.  49.  Op. c i t . , p. 8.  50.  I b i d . , p. 11.  51.  I b i d . , p. 39.  52.  Ibid.  53.  Jack Burnham, Great Western S a l t Works: Essays on the meaning of p o s t - f o r m a l i s t a r t (New York: G. B r a z i l l e r , 1974), p. 149.  54.  L e v i - S t r a u s s , The Savage Mind, p. 219.  34  CHAPTER II  Brancusi a r r i v e d in Paris i n 1904, having t r a v e l l e d , often by f o o t , from his native Romania.  Geist postulates that " a f t e r an academic t r a i n -  ing based on the antique and a t r a d i t i o n of f a i t h f u l n e s s to nature, he went to Paris to improve himself and to enlarge his v i s i o n . one may imagine, to see and learn from the sculpture of  He expected,  Rodin.In  P a r i s , he continued his academic t r a i n i n g in sculpture at the Ecole des Beaux A r t s .  For the next three y e a r s , he worked l a r g e l y i n c l a y , develop-  ing an almost f a c i l e a b i l i t y  for rapid r e a l i s t i c modelling.  however, his work began to change d i r e c t i o n .  About 1907,  Attempting to break with  t r a d i t i o n , and i t appears, with Rodin, Brancusi produced the Prayer. The emphasis on the process of modelling, on the q u a l i t y of materials and on s i m p l i f i e d forms marked a turning point in his a r t i s t i c development.  It must, however, be regarded in retrospect as a t r a n s i t i o n a l 2  p i e c e , as Brancusi was s h o r t l y thereafter to abandon clay altogether. It was also i n 1907 that Brancusi began to carve d i r e c t l y i n t o the stone block, la t a i l l e directe.  "This technique, unused by Rodin, would assure  his l i b e r a t i o n from the Master, and permit him to work in a new set of 3 terms." Between 1907 and 1909, Brancusi produced several works, many 4 l o s t , some dead ends, and some only tentative e x p l o r a t i o n s .  One work,  however, stands out as embodying a dramatic new discovery.  It marks the  point of o r i g i n of Brancusi's personal sculptural language, his s e l f -  35 conscious departure from the academic and his alignment with the avant garde. In late- 1907 and e a r l y 1908 Brancusi conceived and carved the K i s s . In both conception and execution, t h i s work marked a r a d i c a l from his previous production.  Brancusi has at various times confirmed  the seminal p o s i t i o n of the K i s s . de Damas.  departure  " E l 1e avait e t e , d i s a i t - i l , son chemin 5  Pour l a premi&re f o i s , i l y a exprime* son e s s e n t i e l . "  K i s s , i n f a c t , forms the cornerstone of Brancusi's oeuvre.  The  A l l of his  subsequent stone carvings can be demonstrated to be systematically and r a t i o n a l l y related to the ideas expressed i n t h i s work.  In 1938 Brancusi  himself gave an i n d i c a t i o n of the central role of the Kiss and of the remarkable conceptual c o n t i n u i t y in his work.  " F i r s t came t h i s group of  two i n t e r l a c e d , seated figures in stone . . . then the symbol of the egg, then the thought grew into t h i s gateway to a beyond." The Kiss i s regarded by most art h i s t o r i a n s as a milestone both i n Brancusi's development, and i n the course of modernist sculpture in general.  Its importance in r a d i c a l l y a l t e r i n g contemporary sculptural  precepts and s e n s i b i l i t i e s has caused a great deal of attention to be focused on i t .  Geist has, in f a c t , chosen i t from the oeuvre as a whole  as the subject of a separate study.  His opening comments summarize the  p o s i t i o n of the work, both in terms of Brancusi's career and i n terms of i t s broader role in the evolution of modern sculpture. With the carving of The K i s s , B r a n c u s i , by a supreme e f f o r t of w i l l , i n t e l l i g e n c e , and imagination, leaps out of his past. Nothing, or very l i t t l e , i n his e a r l i e r work prepares us f o r i t , f o r i t s special poetry, i t s unobtrusive, densely packed invention. Placed against everything that precedes i t , The Kiss gives the impression of i s s u i n g from a new hand; one w r i t e r has said that i t "seemed to a r r i v e 'from nowhere'." And e f f o r t s to account for i t , to  36 s i t u a t e i t in time and w i t h i n B r a n c u s i ' s developing a r t , have been few enough in s p i t e of the f a c t that i t i s the cornerstone of a great modern oeuvre.7 By f i l l i n g  in t h i s gap, Geist supplies valuable information con-  cerning the h i s t o r i c and personal s i g n i f i c a n c e of both the form and content of the s c u l p t u r e .  He begins his i n v e s t i g a t i o n by giving several  possible sources which may have been a v a i l a b l e to Brancusi in Paris and which may have served as i n s p i r a t i o n , model, reference, or precedent f o r the K i s s .  These sources i n d i c a t e that Brancusi was consciously moving  away from Rodin and i n t o alignment with the avant garde,  particularly  the painting avant garde which was, at that time, fascinated by p r i m i t i v e art. Apart from the currency of the Kiss [theme] in contemporary a r t , the factors that seem most d i r e c t l y to have contributed-to the creation of Brancusi's The Kiss are three: the e x h i b i t i o n of Derain's Crouching Figure at Kahnweiler's; the d i s p l a y of M a t i s s e ' s p a i n t i n g s , notably Music (Study), at the Salon d'Automne; and meetings between Charles Morice and Brancusi in the f a l l of 1907. Behind a l l of them stands the Gauguin Retrospective of 1906. 8  Geist traces the image,and postures of the joined figures in the Kiss to M a t i s s e ' s p a i n t i n g , which Brancusi would have seen in 1907.  He  presents Gaugulin'.s symbolist sculpture and Derain's f a u v i s t figure as precedents f o r Brancusi's adoption of d i r e c t carving and f o r his concern f o r the inherent q u a l i t i e s of the worked m a t e r i a l s .  But the common l i n k  between Gauguin,, M a t i s s e , Derain, the Fauves in g e n e r a l , and other of the avant garde l i k e Picasso at t h i s time was t h e i r i n t e r e s t p r i m i t i v i s m of a l l types. influential  artists  in  Indeed, the Gauguin r e t r o s p e c t i v e was highly  and provided the c a t a l y s t f o r a p r i m i t i v i s t  fantasy which was  37 widely adopted. Since t h i s homogeneous sympathy for p r i m i t i v e a r t in 1906/07 provides several clues f o r Brancusi's move toward the avant garde, i t deserves f u r t h e r d i s c u s s i o n . . It i s however, important to note that the avant garde's concept of the p r i m i t i v e was ethnocentric.  Picasso pro-  vides a case in p o i n t , since his early sculpture was also influenced by the Gauguin retrospective and, l i k e B r a n c u s i , he moved from a period influenced by Rodin (and Symbolism) to an i n t e r e s t in p r i m i t i v e  art.  Johnson, in The Early Sculpture of P i c a s s o , explains that he was drawing on popular notions of p r i m i t i v e culture as Manifestations of concepts such as the e x o t i c , the mysterious, and the e a r t h l y paradise [as] s o c i e t i e s unspoilt by the " e v i l s " of i n d u s t r i a l i z a t i o n . Picasso supplemented these with Gauguin's w r i t i n g s , p a i n t i n g s , and sculptures [which p r i m a r i l y determined] the concept of what was p r i m i t i v e in a r t i s t i c t e r m s . ^ a  Johnson comments on the ethnocentric bias in t h i s view: The best we can do without c u l t u r a l understanding i s to project our own p r e j u d i c i a l views of p r i m i t i v e peoples as simple, mysterious savages on to t h e i r c r e a t i o n s . ,Picasso understandably went through the same kind of process and the r e s u l t was n e c e s s a r i l y a project i o n of the q u a l i t i e s he sought on p r i m i t i v e a r t onto the pieces he c r e a t e d , whether or not they were i n f a c t intended q u a l i t i e s of the p r i m i t i v e carver.8b As part of t h i s e x p r e s s i o n , which r e f l e c t e d general trends found also in Derain's f i g u r e , Picasso created between 1907 and 1908 several remarkable, but l i t t l e known works, notably two Puppets, a totemic Standing Man and a Standing Woman.  These share with the Kiss the tech-  nique of d i r e c t c a r v i n g , which was seen as a c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of art.  primitive  P i c a s s o ' s works also adhere to the pre-established geometic form  38 of the block at the expense of anatomy, although they are c y l i n d r i c a l rather than c u b i c , and i n wood rather than stone. that t h i s too was seen as p r i m i t i v e .  It must be assumed  On the other hand, i t has been  pointed out that Picasso did not comprehend the s i g n i f i c a n t c u l t u r a l q u a l i t i e s of p r i m i t i v e a r t , but was responding l a r g e l y to i t s perceived forms and techniques. 'primitivistic'  His work was, then, as Johnson points out,  rather than  'primitive'.  Nonetheless, Brancusi seems to have responded d i r e c t l y to t h i s climate e s t a b l i s h e d by the works of Gauguin, Picasso and the Fauves. It would seem, i n f a c t , that he found t h i s concern f o r the p r i m i t i v e which saturated the avant garde in 1906/1907 s u f f i c i e n t l y  attractive  that he abandoned his promising, and no doubt p o t e n t i a l l y l u c r a t i v e , career as an academic a r t i s t , working in a r e a l i s t v e i n .  Instead, he  a l t e r e d his course and forged a new a r t i s t i c a l l i a n c e with a movement that he now found sympathetic to his own background.  Although t h i s does  not t o t a l l y explain his remarkable change in d i r e c t i o n , i t does go f a r i n i n d i c a t i n g the conditions under which i t occurred and the forces to which he was responding.throughout his career.  It w i l l be demonstrated  herein that B r a n c u s i ' s p r i m i t i v i s m goes well beyond the borrowing of forms and techniques from p r i m i t i v e c u l t u r e s .  Unlike P i c a s s o , Brancusi's  p r i m i t i v e q u a l i t i e s were part of his very thought processes. Geist sees a f u r t h e r possible influence f o r the Kiss in Charles Morice, the symbolist t h e o r e t i c i a n who also wrote on the Gauguin r e t r o spective.  Morice's influence was, however, more in a conceptual than a  formal sense.  Brancusi, i t seems, could have met Morice at the salon of  O t i l i a Cosmutza, which both frequented.  Comparing the ideas present in  the Kiss with symbolist p r i n c i p l e s , Geist observes "Some s t r i k i n g p a r a l l e l s in the thought of Morice and Brancusi . . . " . ^  Geist  comments on a section of a symbolist text by the former that he f e e l s may have influenced Brancusi:  " . . . with i t s v i s i o n of s i m p l i c i t y and  u n i t y , i t s emphasis on the eternal and e s s e n t i a l , freed from contingency, i t could serve as a program f o r the Kiss and the oeuvre that would follow.  . .  .  n 1 1  Geist also provides another possible i n s p i r a t i o n f o r the K i s s : the Chapiteau des B a i s e r s , sculpted by E. Derre" i n 1899, a version of 12 which was erected in the Luxembourg Gardens i n 1906.  Derr£'s work  .bears a formal and thematic r e l a t i o n s h i p to both Brancusi's Kiss and the columns f o r the Gate,, in which the Kiss motif was l a t e r abstracted and r e f i n e d .  In addition Geist points out that an important  affinity  of a p o l i t i c a l nature also existed between the two s c u l p t o r s . The Gazette des Beaux Arts favored i t [DeVre's work] with a reproduction . . . which described i t as an "oeuvre . . . rivee pour une Maison du Peuple et ou d ' a i l l e u r s l a figure aime"e de 1 'e'vange'lique anarchiste (Louise Michel) [ s i c ] joue avec c e l l e de Blanqui un r61e e s s e n t i e l . . ." Derre"'s p o l i t i c a l sympathies would have made him a t t r a c t i v e to Brancusi who, in t h i s p e r i o d , himself had strong s o c i a l i s t leanings J 3 The undercurrent of a c t i v e s o c i a l protest embodied in Brancusi's "strong s o c i a l i s t leanings" and in Derre*'s model i s in harmony with the symbolist antecedents of the Kiss as perceived by G e i s t .  Robbins has  pointed out in his discussion of the a r t i s t s who formed the commune at the Abbaye of G r e t e i l between 1906 and 1908 that  40 Many of the most i n f l u e n t i a l w r i t e r s and a r t i s t s of the symbolist generation supported the most r a d i c a l s o c i a l philosophy of t h e i r epoch with the r e s u l t that . . . there was a strong i d e n t i f i c a t i o n between the symbolist a r t i s t s and l i t e r a t i on the one hand and the S o c i a l i s t and Anarchist i n t e l l e c t u a l s on the o t h e r J 4  In Robbins' a n a l y s i s , however, t h i s a s s o c i a t i o n caused the a r t i s t s p a r t i c u l a r problem. Despite—or perhaps because of—the i d e n t i t y between a r t i s t and s o c i a l reformer, the Symbolist a r t i s t was confronted with a s i g n i f i c a n t problem: the d i f f i c u l t y of adapting his a r t i s t i c vocabulary to his new r o l e . . . . By and l a r g e , these forms were remote from r e a l i t y and the a r t i s t s of the l a s t f i f t e e n years of the century knew i t . . . . They were unable to forge the necessary new i d e n t i t y between the means of t h e i r a r t and the function they conceived f o r i t i n modern i n d u s t r i a l society.15 As Robbins points out, the a r t i s t s at the Abbaye "proposed to solve the same problem (namely, how to create a t r u l y modern a r t based on the conditions of modern l i f e ) , but they were determined not to escape into a e s t h e t i c i s m , nor to r e l y on symbolism and a l l e g o r y . " ^ Brancusi showed his sympathy with the a r t i s t s of the Abbaye by e x h i b i t i n g work there when the commune was having f i n a n c i a l  difficulties.  In sharing t h e i r i d e a l s , however, he also shared t h e i r problems, but with an added complexity.  Brancusi's mythological system, by i t s very  nature, aspired to the timeless rather than the contemporary, despite the f a c t that i t was expressed i n a modernist idiom, and i n forms appropriate to his age.  This tension between a commitment to a p l a s t i c  expression of h i s t o r i c a l e v o l u t i o n , both s o c i a l and a r t i s t i c , and timelessness w i l l become, i n the f i n a l a n a l y s i s , one of the most pertinent aspects of his work and his developing mythology.  Indeed, i t  be demonstrated that Brancusi's mythology forced him to move out of  will  41 alignment with his e a r l y p o l i t i c a l ideals and into s p i r i t u a l i t y ,  and the  eternal. Geist also o f f e r s an i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the possible personal s i g n i f icance of the K i s s .  Drawing upon the j u x t a p o s i t i o n of two small studies  (neither the Kiss) present in an e a r l y photograph of Brancusi's s t u d i o , he postulates a biographical episode involving love refused and then consummated as i t s primary i n s p i r a t i o n .  The basis for such a theory,  however, i s weak and as corroborating evidence i s not provided, i t can only be viewed as s p e c u l a t i v e . A f t e r dealing with the various possible sources f o r the K i s s , Geist continues his study with a d e t a i l e d formal i n v e s t i g a t i o n of the subsequent v a r i a t i o n s which Brancusi produced throughout his career. Although d e t a i l s of the work altered in d i f f e r e n t v e r s i o n s , Brancusi remained f a i t h f u l to his o r i g i n a l conception.  " . . . The Kiss remains  constant in i t s humble matiere, i t s s t a b i l i t y , and i t s recognizable imagery, undergoing only s l i g h t change i n proportion, i n s t y l e and the sentiment these r e l e a s e . " ^  This remarkable consistency in conception  between the 1907 version and i t s counterpart from 1945 i s an important feature of Brancusi's work.  It i n d i c a t e s , above a l l , that Brancusi  remained t r u e , throughout his career, to the ideas he f i r s t expressed when he entered the avant garde. The same cannot be s a i d , however, of other members of the avant garde.  Picasso again provides a point of comparison.  The p a r a l l e l paths  of Brancusi's • arid • P i c a s s o ' s early work contrast with t h e i r developments.  later  By 1908 Picasso was moving away from p r i m i t i v i z e d forms  into experiments in geometric cubism, which even i f i n i t i a l l y  influenced  42 by p r i m i t i v e a r t , soon moved beyond i t .  Indeed, throughout the remainder  of his career P i c a s s o ' s sculpture became an expression of a plethora of interests.  Consequently, his work from 1945 has l i t t l e in common with  his formative period of 1906/07, or of Brancusi's work of any p e r i o d . Unlike P i c a s s o , Brancusi remained f a i t h f u l to his o r i g i n a l  inspiration  throughout his c a r e e r , from the f i r s t Kiss to the f i n a l v e r s i o n . i n s i g n i f i c a n t l y , the l a t t e r was the l a s t stone work he created.  Not The f a c t  that t h i s conception brackets Brancusi's work as a whole indicates i t s importance not only to the a r t i s t but also to the oeuvre. When subjected to a s t r u c t u r a l i s t a n a l y s i s , the Kiss in a l l  its  expressions can be seen to contain the fundamental propositions and problems explored throughout Brancusi's subsequent work.  As Geist and  others have t e n t a t i v e l y observed, these may be stated i n a s e r i e s of binary oppositions and categorizations of d u a l i t i e s observable i n empirical r e a l i t y , i . e . , concrete l o g i c , p r i m i t i v e or mythological  thought.  Indeed, i n both conception and execution, the Kiss contains a complex system of opposing elements, which a r e , despite t h e i r d i v e r s i t y ,  inter-  related through a s e r i e s of mediating elements, p a r a l l e l s and transformations.  The Kiss contains the basic propositions of what i s a philosophic  and mythic, as well as a s c u l p t u r a l , system. The f i r s t opposition evident i n B r a n c u s i ' s the Kiss appears i n i t s d i r e c t , and no doubt deliberate reference to the famous work of the same t i t l e by Rodin. occasion.  Geist has observed t h i s a n t i t h e s i s on more than one  In 1978 he s t a t e d :  "With The Kiss of 1907, on every score  the a n t i t h e s i s of The Kiss of Rodin, he turns against the master of  43 Meudon."  I o  He r e i t e r a t e d t h i s i n 1978 when he stated-: 19  . . . c o n s t i t u t e a paradigm of a r t i s t i c p o l a r i t y . "  "The two works The nature of  t h i s oppositional paradigm i s important as i t gives an i n s i g h t  into  Brancusi's reaction to time, h i s t o r y and contemporary myths. It has been noted i n the discussion of Burnham's work that h i s t o r y and mythological systems contain inimicable concepts of time. i s d i a c h r o n i c , the l a t t e r synchronic.  The f i r s t  It has also been noted that  Brancusi was operating w i t h i n an avant garde that was very conscious of i t s own h i s t o r y . history.  Y e t , Brancusi created an image that i s a negation of  As Geist stated i n an e a r l i e r quote, the Kiss seems to spring  from nowhere.  It appears, in f a c t , outside of time and h i s t o r y .  Both •  p r i m i t i v e and modern, the Kiss does not follow from Rodin's developments, or even from those of Rosso and B o u r d e l l e , but i s rather a denial of that history.  It compresses a l l the time from the o r i g i n of sculpture to the 20  present.  Brancusi referred to t h i s concept with the phrase "time's 21  reverse pendulum."  This synchronic a t t i t u d e towards time i n which  h i s t o r i c a l progression i s suppressed or inverted i s one of the primary features of mythic or p r i m i t i v e thought, and as has been s t a t e d , 21 separates i t from modern, s c i e n t i f i c and h i s t o r i c a l l y oriented It seems then, f o r t u i t o u s  thought.  that Brancusi was able to enter the avant  garde in Paris at a time when t h e i r attention was focused on p r i m i t i v e art.  He could thus a l i g n himself with the avant garde in i t s conscious  h i s t o r i c a l progression, and at the same time, deny t h i s .  The f u l l  i m p l i c a t i o n s of B r a n c u s i ' s synchronic system and i t s r e l a t i o n to the avant garde can, however, only be analysed a f t e r the e n t i r e oeuvre has  44 been examined. Some suggestion of Brancusi's response to Rodin and to the h i s t o r y of sculpture can be suggested at t h i s p o i n t , however, by r e f e r r i n g  to  L e v i - S t r a u s s , who points out i n The Savage Mind: "The c h a r a c t e r i s t i c feature of mythological thought . . . i s sets . . .  that i t sets up structured  by using the remains and debris of events: . . .  (the) • 21b  f o s s i l i z e d evidence of the h i s t o r y of an i n d i v i d u a l or s o c i e t y . " Direct references to Rodin did not immediately disappear from Brancusi's stone sculpture following the K i s s , but remained present in a d e c l i n i n g scale u n t i l about 1914.  In each case, however, these references take on  a very s p e c i f i c meaning and a r e , l i k e those i n the K i s s , undoubtedly d e l i b e r a t e , although the l a t e r ones have not been noted by past observers. Like the h i s t o r i c a l reference to Rodin, the form and content of the Kiss are also composed of a series of mythic oppositions.  The f i r s t  of these concerns the opposition of the sexes, which, as has been s t a t e d , i s a common concern of mythological systems.  Through a b r i l l i a n t  formal  and technical conception, Brancusi has been able to present the d u a l i t i e s of male and female in both conjunction and d i s j u n c t i o n , as both 22  d i s t i n c t and u n i f i e d .  The Kiss both states the opposition and forms  the resolution of i t i n terms of a mediation: the work i t s e l f both joined i n generative sexual a c t i v i t y .  contains  Brancusi has stated t h i s by  i l i i t t l e ' more than i n c i s i n g two embracing figures into a rectangular stone block.  The p a i r of lovers are joined i n t e r n a l l y at the eye and mouth,  and through t h e i r overlapping arms.  Furthermore, a l l anatomical  differences except f o r a s l i g h t d e f i n i t i o n of the female breast, have  45 been suppressed.  The two figures are divided only by a s i n g l e i n c i s e d 23  c l e f t running through them, a l i n e which both divides and u n i f i e s . The sexes are thus presented as both d i f f e r e n t i a t e d and n o n - d i f f e r e n t i a t e d , or continuous.  By t o t a l l y r e j e c t i n g the s c u l p t u r a l approaches of both  Rodin and his own thorough academic t r a i n i n g , and adopting that of the avant garde as expressed by P i c a s s o , Derain and Gauguini, Brancusi r e a l i z e d his conception and stated simultaneously both the problem of and s o l u t i o n to the opposition of the sexes.  Technical process thereby  complemented conception, a mastery and balance which he retained 24 throughout his career. The d u a l i s t i c conceptions incorporated in the image and execution of the Kiss are not e x c l u s i v e l y sexual.  The respect which Brancusi has  shown f o r the inherent form of the quarried block of stone has been i n t e r 25 preted as "a close communion with the nature of his m a t e r i a l s . " The idea of nature, although here in the sense of a l l that i s not c u l t u r e , 26 i s very important i n Le*vi-Strauss'theories.  Burnham was correct in  pointing out that the primary d u a l i t y of p r i m i t i v e mythological systems i s that of the opposition between culture and nature.  In the K i s s ,  nature, which i s n o n - d i f f e r e n t i a t e d , can be seen as expressed in the non-defined raw material—the stone block before i t was carved. i s expressed in the image imposed on the stone which gives i t The image transforms what was nature, i . e . , non-differentiated i n t o c u l t u r e , i . e . , mythic a r t object.  Culture  definition. rock,  The balance and r e s o l u t i o n of  these oppositions i s again contained i n the combination of materials and c a r v i n g , as was that of the sexes.  Both oppositions have been solved  46 by a transformation, and both are part of the "densely packed invention" of the K i s s . These oppositions a r e , moreover, r e l a t e d .  Both involve the con-  cept of c r e a t i o n , i n the f i r s t instance sexual c r e a t i o n , in the l a t t e r , artistic. of a r t .  In the f i r s t a new l i f e i s created, i n the other, a new work One involves the j o i n i n g of man and woman, the other, the union  of the a r t i s t and his m a t e r i a l s . nature and culture i s evoked.  In e i t h e r i n s t a n c e , the dualism of  What de Caso and Sanders state about  Rodin's work holds true for B r a n c u s i ' s .  The. nudes in Rodin's work  "became a symbol of untarnished, primal nature; the act of k i s s i n g was a prelude to mankind's p a r t i c i p a t i o n in the generative forces of the 26a universe."  Two p a r a l l e l (yet fundamentally related) notions of  creation thus occur in t h e K i s s . ;  As w i l l  be seen, Brancusi goes on in  his l a t e r work to separate these conceptions and explore them i n d i v i d u a l l y , before resolving them through a mediating work. As the context of a second version of the Kiss i s added to that of the f i r s t , the coherent system of d u a l i s t i c conceptions becomes more complex, but maintains i t s inherent r a t i o n a l i t y . different  A 1909 K i s s ,  slightly  from the o r i g i n a l in that i t contains f u l l figures rather than  fragments, was chosen by 1910 as the grave marker f o r an acquaintance of Brancusi.  Having committed s u i c i d e , due to an unhappy love a f f a i r , she,  was buried i n the annex to Montparnasse Cemetery.  The use of the work  as a headstone, although not part of i t s o r i g i n a l conception, added to i t s s i g n i f i c a n c e and seems to have influenced subsequent developments. As Le*vi-Strauss points out, p o s i t i o n always plays an integral part in  47 the i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of " p r i m i t i v e " images. manner was not a r b i t r a r y .  27  The use of the Kiss in t h i s  Brancusi had not yet p u b l i c l y exhibited  it  and could e a s i l y have refused, rather than concurred in t h i s choice. It must be assumed that he saw i t s use not as incongruous, but as complementary to his conception.  As a tombstone, the Montparnasse Kiss  i s a sign of death and termination.  The visual and contextual ambiguity  created by using an image of l i f e and r e b i r t h , i . e . , continuation of l i f e , resolves another important and unpleasant opposition inherent in empirical e x i s t a n c e .  On another, but related l e v e l , a f t e r death the  body decays and j o i n s n o n - d i f f e r e n t i a t e d nature; the K i s s , -as has been s t a t e d , reverses t h i s process.  The unpleasant r e a l i t y of death and i t s  consequences thus seems to have been overcome through both sexual and 28 a r t i s t i c creation. Thus, as the formal l i n k between the Kiss and p r i m i t i v e sculpture i s obvious, the conceptual l i n k between the former and the basic forms of " p r i m i t i v e " mythologies can again be understood by r e f e r r i n g to L^vi-Strauss.  He explains that p r i m i t i v e mythology commonly overcomes  the question of immortality and m o r t a l i t y by giving culture ( i . e . , 29  art)  permanence while remaining pragmatic about i n d i v i d u a l s . Indeed, i f we think of the image of the Kiss as mythn'c, the conceptual role o f the-sculpture becomes c l e a r e r .  As Le'vi-Strauss points  out in S t r u c t u r a l Anthropology, "what gives . . . myth an operational value i s that the s p e c i f i c pattern described i s t i m e l e s s ; i t explains 30 the present and the past as well as the f u t u r e . "  The purpose of a  myth i s to provide a l o g i c a l model capable of overcoming a c o n t r a d i c t i o n .  48 The Kiss i s such a model.  It establishes a sequence of r e l a t e d  opposites c o d i f i e d in a s i n g l e but "densely packed" statement.  The  oppositions may best be stated g r a p h i c a l l y .  nature non-di f f e r e n t i a t i on  death and dissolution  non-distinguished sexes  male and female  material  1 ffe and = art sexual*- creation - ^ a r t i s t i c  matrix  object  . different!" ation culture  These l i n k e d pairs of o p p o s i t i o n s , to be f u l l y appreciated as units of "mythic" or " p r i m i t i v e "  thought, must not be seen as simple themes,  but as integrated philosophical propositions present i n a l l aspects of the work—conception, execution, form and p o s i t i o n .  They only become  coherent when the work i s examined as a t o t a l i t y . . Their presence indicates a highly i n t e l l e c t u a l mind, but one working w i t h i n the framework of " p r i m i t i v e "  thought, in which problems and propositions are  49 stated i n a series of related equations, o p p o s i t i o n s , and transformations between binary elements. A f i n a l opposition observable in the Kiss may i n d i c a t e another source f o r the philosophical i n f r a s t r u c t u r e of Brancusi's s c u l p t u r a l system.  Timeless.stone lovers are frozen in a marble block i n the act  of conceiving a new l i f e . active l i f e forces.  This states the dualism of i n e r t material and  Henri Bergson devoted some time to various aspects  of the r e s o l u t i o n of such concepts, i n c l u d i n g that of e*lan v i t a l e and material existence.  Creative E v o l u t i o n , in which he explored aspects of  t h i s problem, was f i r s t published in 1907, the year before Brancusi's Kiss was being completed. This book, as well as his study on Matiere et Memoire (1898) a r e , in f a c t , both present i n Brancusi's personal l i b r a r y and papers, now preserved i n Paris i n the archives of the Centre National d ' A r t et de 31 Culture Georges Pompidou.  Both books explore d u a l i s t i c concepts.  The opening l i n e s of Bergson's introduction to the seventeenth e d i t i o n of Matiere et Memoire s t a t e s :  "Ce l i v r e affirme l a re"alite* de  1'esprit,  l a re"alitg de l a matiere, et essaie de determiner l e rapport de 1'un S 1'autre sur un example p r e c i s , c e l u i de l a memoire.  II est done nettement  '32  dualiste."  Many s p e c i f i c ideas found in these w r i t i n g s , such as the  opposition between matter and s p i r i t and matter and e"lan v i t a l e are c l e a r l y evident i n the Kiss and Brancusi's subsequent work. Despite the a f f i n i t y of i d e a s , the influence of Bergson's books on Brancusi's formative period i s d i f f i c u l t to prove from a v a i l a b l e information.  Each e d i t i o n in his l i b r a r y was published i n 1914.  50 Brancusi, i n keeping with his i l l i t e r a t e .background, read l i t t l e .  Many  of the books i n his l i b r a r y remain with pages uncut; Bergson's are no exception.  MatiSre et Memoire has less than one hundred pages opened.  Creative Evolution appears untouched.  S t i l l , t h e i r presence and the  correspondence of ideas i s s i g n i f i c a n t as a possible influence and source of ideas.  It remains possible that the works replaced e a r l i e r  ones l o s t in a move or f o r other reasons, e s p e c i a l l y as l i t t l e in the archives c o l l e c t i o n predates 1914.  33  Brancusi also may, as a student,  have attended Bergson's lectures at the College de France, which were 34 both highly popular and open to the p u b l i c .  Perhaps s i g n i f i c a n t l y ,  these lectures ceased in the year B r a n c u s i ' s editions were published. Brancusi would c e r t a i n l y have encountered Bergson s widely 1  d i s t r i b u t e d ideas in d i s c u s s i o n s , as Bergson was at the height of his popularity between 1900 and 1914.  Indeed, many observers have pointed  out his profound influence on avant garde sculpture and p a r t i c u l a r l y 35 Brancusi during t h i s period.  Referring to a quote from Bergson's  Introduction to Metaphysics (1903), Geist s t a t e s , "This language and whole essay so exactly define the Brancusian area of expression that we are tempted to think that the sculptor found i n them not only an 36 - i n s p i r a t i o n but a kind of program." vein: Rodin.  A l b e r t El sen also states in t h i s  "Henri Bergson may have been f o r Brancusi what Baudelaire was to Brancusi's art was responsive to the climate in P a r i s , influenced  by Bergson, that saw l i f e as l i v e d i n the i r r a t i o n a l , expressed i n v i t a l 37 urges, and which affirmed i n t u i t i o n as a r e l i a b l e path to t r u t h . "  51 Brancusi's use of Bergson's ideas as a basis for developing his own s c u l p t u r a l language has special s i g n i f i c a n c e .  Arnold Hauser has  pointed out that: The French c r i t i c Jean Paul nan d i f f e r e n t i a t e s between two d i s t i n c t categories of w r i t e r s , according to t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p to language. He c a l l s the language-destroyers, that i s to say, the romantics, symbolists and s u r r e a l i s t s who want to eliminate the commonplace, conventional forms and ready-made c l i c h e s from language completely and who take refuge from the dangers of language i n pure, v i r g i n a l , o r i g i n a l i n s p i r a t i o n , the " t e r r o r i s t s . " They f i g h t against a l l consolidation and coagulation of the l i v i n g , f l u i d , intimate l i f e of the mind, against a l l external i z a t i o n and i n s t i t u t i o n a l i z a t i o n , in other words, against a l l 'culture'. Paulhan l i n k s them up with Bergson and establishes the influence of i n t u i t i o n i s m and the theory of the '£lan v i t a l in t h e i r attempt to preserve the directness and o r i g i n a l i t y of the s p i r i t u a l experience. The other camp, that i s the writers who know p e r f e c t l y well t h a t commonplaces and c l i c h e s are the o p r i c e of mutual understanding . . . he c a l l s the ' r h e t o r i c i a n s ' . " 1  C  To what extent Brancusi's language constituted an act of  cultural  terrorism or r h e t o r i c can also only be analysed a f t e r the e n t i r e oeuvre has been examined.  52 Footnotes: Chapter 1. 2.  II  G e i s t , 1968, p. 148. "The work i s e a s i l y d i v i s i b l e into two c l e a r l y marked phases: the .student and early works up to the Prayer, and the mature period beginning soon a f t e r . " G e i s t , 1975, p. 14.  3.  G e i s t , 1978, p. 14.  4.  For example: Wisdom of the E a r t h , 1908; Head, 1908; Sleeping C h i l d , 1908; Danaide, 1907-1908; Baroness R . F . , 1909; Torso, 1909.  5.  Brancusi i n a conversation with H.P. Roche, in reference to the Montparnasse version of 1909, c i t e d in i b i d . , n. 11, p. 99.  6.  Maivina Hoffman, Sculpture Inside and Out (New York: Bonanza Books, 1939), pp. 53-54.  7.  G e i s t , 1978, p. 1.  8.  I b i d . , pp. 40, 42.  8a.  Ron Johnson, The Early Sculpture of Picasso 1901-1914 (New York: Garland, 1976), p. 63.  8b.  I b i d . , p. 69.  9.  G e i s t , 1978, pp. 38-39.  10.  I b i d . , p. 40.  11.  Ibid.  12.  I b i d . , pp. 27-30.  13.  I b i d . , pp. 29-30. Geist elaborates more extensively on Brancusi's s o c i a l i s t sympathies i n 1975, and discusses them i n terms of the Redskins, P o r t r a i t of M.S. Lupesco, as well as in the Penguins. G e i s t , 1975, p. 19.  14.  Daniel Robbins, "From Symbolism to Cubism: The Abbaye of C r e t e i l , " i n Art J o u r n a l , Winter, 1963/64, p. 112.  15.  Ibid.  16.  I b i d . , p. 114.  17.  G e i s t , 1978, p. 69.  53  18.  G e i s t , 1968, p. 142.  19.  G e i s t , 1978, p. 22.  20.  Geist says "Rodin's protagonists . . . imply a.past and a f u t u r e . . . . [ B r a n c u s i ' s ] Kiss i s enacted in an eternal present, without memory or a n t i c i p a t i o n . " G e i s t , 1968, p. 142. See also "The Kiss should turn us away from European t r a d i t i o n s back towards more p r i m i t i v e o r i g i n s . " Lewis, p. 14.  21.  Brancusi, c i t e d in G e i s t , 1968, p. 172.  21a.  Perhaps the best d e s c r i p t i o n of t h i s important d i s t i n c t i o n occurs in Robert F l o r i d a , ."The G i r l Who Married the Bear," i n Religion and Culture in Canada, essays by members of the Canadian Society f o r the Study of R e l i g i o n , 1979, pp. 82-83: "In "'The Structural Study of M y t h ' " , L^vi-Strauss argues that myth operates on two s c a l e s : the diachronic and the synchronic. On the diachronic scale the narrative forges along from event to event i n chronological sequence w h i l s t on the synchronic scale time stands s t i l l or collapses upon i t s e l f , as i t were. "'On the one hand, a myth always refers to events alleged to have taken place long ago. But what gives the myth an operational value i s that the s p e c i f i c pattern described i s t i m e l e s s ; i t explains the present and the past as well as the future . . . Thus myth has a double s t r u c t u r e , altogether h i s t o r i c a l and a h i s t o r i c a l . " ' The equation between these two terms should not be thought of as e q u a l , f o r as "the story l i n e of the myth i s d i a c h r o n i c , . . . the structure conveys the synchronic or timeless meaning." For a f u r t h e r discussion of time in myth as opposed to history see L ^ v i - S t r a u s s , Structural Anthropology, Chapter X I , "The Structural Study of Myth," pp. 206-231.  21b.  Le"vi-Strauss, The Savage Mind, p. 21-22.  22.  See Lewis, p. 12.  23.  Such a l i n e was also used in the uprights f o r the Gate of the Kiss and was interpreted as s i g n i f y i n g "the form of two c e l l s that meet and create l i f e . . . . The beginning of l i f e . . . through l o v e . " Brancusi confirmed t h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n . Maivina Hoffman, p. 53.  24.  Krauss, Tucker and Geist have s u f f i c i e n t l y demonstrated that Brancusi's work was never c o n s i s t e n t l y about the inherent q u a l i t i e s of his m a t e r i a l s . These were, r a t h e r , emphasised or repressed as the occasion and conception demanded. See, in p a r t i c u l a r , G e i s t , 1968, pp. 158-161.  54 25.  Lewis, p. 27.  26.  " . . . l ' a r t c o n s t i t u e , au plus haut p o i n t , cette p r i s e de possession d e . l a nature par l a c u l t u r e , " Levi-Strauss i n Charbonnier, p. 130.  26a.  Jacques De Caso and P a t r i c i a Sanders, Rodin's S c u l p t u r e , A C r i t i c a l Study of the S p r e c k e l ' s C o l l e c t i o n (San Francisco: The Fine Arts Museums of San F r a n c i s c o , 1977), p. 151.  27.  "A native thinker makes the penetrating comment that ' " a l l sacred things must have t h e i r p l a c e . ' " i t could even be said that being in t h e i r place i s what makes them sacred for i f they were taken out of t h e i r p l a c e , even i n thought, the e n t i r e order of the universe would be destroyed." L e v i - S t r a u s s , The Savage Mind, p. 10. To what extent t h i s explains Brancusi's propensity f o r keeping his work together i n his studio both before and a f t e r his death can only be surmised.  28.  Leach's comment on t h i s aspect of mythological thought i s worth c i t i n g at length. "Another ' c o n t r a d i c t i o n ' of a comparable kind [to that of the o r i g i n of l i f e and the problem of i n c e s t ] i s that the concept of l i f e e n t a i l s the concept of death; a l i v i n g thing i s that which i s not dead, a dead thing i s that which i s not a l i v e . But r e l i g i o n endeavours to separate these two i n t r i n s i c a l l y interdependent concepts so that we have myths which account for the o r i g i n [author's emphasis] of death or which represent death as 'the gateway to eternal l i f e ' . Levi-Strauss has argued that when we are considering the u n i v e r s a l i s t aspects of p r i m i t i v e mythology we s h a l l repeatedly discover that the hidden message i s concerned with the r e s o l u t i o n of unwelcome contradictions of t h i s s o r t . The r e p e t i t i o n s and prevarications of mythology so fog the issue that i r r e s o l v a b l e l o g i c a l inconsistencies are l o s t sight of even when they are openly expressed." Edmund Leach, Levi-Strauss (Glasgow: Fontana, 1970) Revised E d i t i o n , 1974, p. 58.  29.  See Leach, pp. 58 and 65.  30.  Le~vi-Strauss , Structural Anthropology, p. 209.  31.  Henri Bergson, MatiSre et Memoire ( P a r i s : L i b r a i r e F e l i x A l c a n , 1914, 18th ed.) and L ' e v o l u t i o n Creatice ( P a r i s : L i b r a i r e F e l i x A l c a n , 1914, 12 ed.)  32.  I b i d . , p.  33.  Much o f . t h i s material was l o s t or stolen before the t r a n s f e r of the studio to the Musee. G e i s t , 1978, note 27, p. 100.  i.  55 34.  See preface to English t r a n s l a t i o n of Selections from Bergson (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1949), p. x i v .  35.  "The enormous influence exercised by Henri Bergson (1859-1941) in the opening years of the century cannot have f a i l e d to touch B r a n c u s i . " G e i s t , 1968, p. 147.  36.  Ibid.  37.  A l b e r t El sen, Origins of Modern Sculpture, Pioneers and Premises (Oxford: Phaidon, 1974), p. 23. "Bergson's ideas were also at the core of the Abbaye de C r e t i e l group. . . . By 1911 the Bergsonian view—no doubt often blurred or simplified—was the common property of the avant-garde. . . . The publications of the Abbaye c i r c l e between 1908 and 1912 demonstrate beyond a doubt the importance to t h e i r e n t i r e approach of the Bergsonian view." Christopher Green, Leger and the Avant Garde (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976), p. 25.  38.  Arnold Hauser, The Social. History of A r t , V o l . 4 , Natural ism, Impressionism, the Film Age (London: Routledge and Kegan P a u l , 1962), pp. 219-220.  CHAPTER  III  A f t e r carving the f i r s t K i s s , Brancusi began to develop his oeuvre with two s e r i e s of stone heads.  The sequence of the f i r s t of these has  been established by G e i s t , Tucker, e t . a l .  They have generally ordered  t h i s s e r i e s by formal s i m i l a r i t i e s , that i s , by placing the works in metaphorical sequence. turally,  When both form and content are examined s t r u c -  however, i t can be demonstrated that a secondary code of meaning  a l s o j o i n s the works.  Indeed, t h i s meaning can be formulated with such  p r e c i s i o n that the existence of c e r t a i n key works can be predicted in advance.  Le*vi-Strauss has, at one point i n the analysis of formal and  contextual elements of p r i m i t i v e a r t , indicated that p r e d i c t a b i l i t y the proof of the e f f i c a c y of the methodology.^  is  At c e r t a i n p o i n t s , then,  the concerns of the series w i l l be assessed, and t h e i r inherent l o g i c a l progressions used to project the q u a l i t i e s of following works.  The  success of the a n a l y s i s can be measured by the degree to which a l l  the  d e t a i l s of these works can be f o r e t o l d . Brancusi i n i t i a t e d the f i r s t series with the Sleeper of 1908.  A  v e i l e d and withdrawn v i s a g e , represented n a t u r a l i s t i c a l l y , i s half embedded and h a l f emerging from a roughly hewn marble block.  The con-  t r a s t between image and m a t e r i a l , as opposed to t h e i r conjunction in the Kiss, is significant.  Employing technical and representational means  p r e c i s e l y i n v e r t i n g those of the K i s s , Brancusi again refers to the  57 process of raw material taking shape and d e f i n i t i o n through the a r t i s t ' s touch—or, i n other terms, the emergence of culture ( i . e . , art  object)  from nature ( i . e . , n o n - d i f f e r e n t i a t e d material matrix) through the mediation of the image creating a r t i s t . abstraction of the K i s s , Brancusi s t i l l  Thus, while i n v e r t i n g the restates the central problem and  proposition common to both otherwise d i s s i m i l a r s c u l p t u r e s .  In  l i n g u i s t i c terms, the code has been a l t e r e d , but the message remains the same. That i s , however, not the only correspondence between the Kiss and the Sleeper.  The l a t t e r also bears a formal s i m i l a r i t y to works by  Rodin: the Aurora of 1885, and the Muse of c. 1900.  By creating two  works, both related ^to Rodin, but using opposing modes of representation, Brancusi states his opposition to h i s t o r i c a l s c u l p t u r a l e v o l u t i o n .  He  again compresses and brackets time by bringing together the s t y l e s of the e a r l i e s t and most d i s t a n t cultures and one from contemporary experience.  In so doing, he again announces his i n t e n t i o n to be t i m e l e s s , out-  side of time, synchronic rather than-diachronic.  This tension between  the temporal and the e t e r n a l , with the emphasis on the l a t t e r , can be observed throughout his work. But the Sleeper does more than j u s t restate old themes.  It also  introduces new philosophical ideas to those expressed i n the K i s s .  The  Sleeper's head, embedded in a material matrix, and only h a l f formed, i s imprisoned, unable to move. sciousness and immobility.  The t i t l e and the forms thus denote unconIf the assumptions of the methodology are  c o r r e c t , a d i r e c t inference to consciousness and m o b i l i t y must also be  58 present, although not n e c e s s a r i l y e x p l i c i t at t h i s point.  They must,  however, be present in the oeuvre as a whole, and, in f a c t , occur in the next work.  As with the elements of the K i s s , we must again turn to  Bergson f o r a contemporary discussion and source of these ideas. Indeed Bergson analysed the d u a l i s t i c opposition and r e l a t i o n s between consciousness, as expressed through sensory awareness, and unconsciousness, as expressed in sleep.  Moreover, he discussed these ideas in terms  of m o b i l i t y and immobility, and ultimately between matter and s p i r i t .  in terms of the opposition  This discussion occupies much of both  Matiere et Memoire and Creative Evolution.  Bergson's hypothesis explains  both the nature of the Sleeper and establishes the premises of the f o l l o w ing work. Bergson opens his f i r s t chapter of Matiere et Memoire, "De l a s e l e c t i o n des images pour le representation—le r o l e  _ctu.j  corps" with a  statement about states of perception. Nous a l l o n s feindre pour un instant que nous de connaissions r i e n des theories de l a matieYe et des theories de 1 ' e s p r i t , r i e n des discussions sur l a r e a l i t e ou l ' i d e ' a l i t e ' du monde e x t e r i e u r . Me v o i c i done en presence d images, au sens l e plus vague ou l ' o n puisse prendre ce mot, images percues quand j ' o u v r e mes sens, impercues quand j e les ferme.3 1  But more to the p o i n t , in the second chapter of Creative E v o l u t i o n , Bergson discusses at length the opposition between consciousness and m o b i l i t y and sleep and immobility in.terms of the evolutionary process. In Bergson's philosophy, these concepts appear at e i t h e r end of the polar axis of creative e v o l u t i o n .  He postulates that they are in f a c t  the defining c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s which separate animal from plant  life.  Furthermore, human and animal l i f e are separated in that humans have a  59 conscious i n t e l l i g e n c e above mere animal i n s t i n c t .  This i n t e l l i g e n c e ,  which allows f o r the power of motion and control of the material w o r l d , i s unique to the species and resides in the b r a i n , medulla and nervous system of the human physiognomy. We have already said that the animals and vegetables must have separated soon from t h e i r common stock, the vegetable f a l l i n g asleep in immobility, the animal, on the contrary, becoming more and more awake and marching on to the conquest of the nervous system.4 . . . the whole evolution of the animal kingdom, apart from r e t r o gressions towards vegetative l i f e , has taken place in two divergent paths, one of which led to i n s t i n c t and the other to i n t e l l i g e n c e . . . . i n t e l l i g e n c e i s l i k e l y to point towards consciousness, and i n s t i n c t towards nonconsciousness. . . . the human species . . . r e p r e s e n t s the culminating point of the evolution of the vertebrates, (p. 141) But as Bergson says, humans may degenerate down the scale of evolut i o n by becoming, l i k e p l a n t s , asleep.  This statement in the content  of the Sleeper would lead us to expect a simultaneous and corresponding, statement i n the form.  This i s , in f a c t , the case.  that evolutions occurs over time.  It w i l l be r e c a l l e d  In Bergson's view, "The more we study  the nature of time, the more we s h a l l comprehend that duration means i n v e n t i o n , the creation of forms, the continuous elaboration of the 4b absolutely new."  The Sleeper i s , however, unlike the K i s s , not so.  It i s r a t h e r , i n Bergson's terms, p a r a s i t i c l i k e a human that degenerates down the evolutionary ladder, i n that i t s form retrogresses by being borrowed d i r e c t l y from Rodin.  T h i s , both the form and the content of  the S1eeper, s i g n i f y two aspects of Bergson's concept of evolutionary r e t r o g r e s s i o n ; i t s form flows against the evolution of time, i t s  content  60 flows against the evolution of consciousness. The importance of the foregoing to the present discussion i s that i t establishes deeper l i n k s between the Sleeper and the Kiss i n terms o f el.an v i t a l e and c r e a t i v e e v o l u t i o n .  While the Kiss seems to demon-  s t r a t e the a c t i v e part of t h i s p r i n c i p l e , the Sleeper contains the negative s i d e .  Furthermore, i t would appear that i f the correspondence  between the subject of the Sleeper and the contemporary concerns of Bergson's philosophy are c o r r e c t , then Brancusi has repeated the process evident in the Kiss of drawing an image from his environment, s p e c i f i c a l l y a work by Rodin, and, by i s o l a t i n g i t i n the context of his personal oeuvre, endowing i t with a new philosophical s i g n i f i c a n c e , corresponding to Bergson's ideas.  Brancusi's s e r i e s of heads i s beginning to emerge  as a philosophical as well as a s c u l p t u r a l discourse. The formal (or metaphorical) and thematic (or metonymical) r e l a t i o n s between s c u l p t u r a l units placed i n a coded, semantic s e r i e s become operative with the head following the Sleeper: the Muse of 1909. The complex r e l a t i o n s h i p s between s c u l p t u r e s , as expressed in the transformations, p a r a l l e l s and oppositions inherent i n the forms and contents of each, now come i n t o play. As with the Kiss and the Sleeper, Brancusi again draws on Rodin f o r i n s p i r a t i o n f o r the Muse.  The connection i s however, more contempor-  ary and of a diminishing nature.  It seems to come from two sources:  The Muse of about 1900, previously mentioned, and a bronze group, Le Sculpteur et sa Muse, which Rodin exhibited in 1908 at the Socidte Nouvelle de Peintures et Sculptures.  Brancusi could not have been  61 unaware of these works.  The l a t t e r was described i n the Studio.  As  t h i s constitutes an objective d e s c r i p t i o n and contains several important p o i n t s , i t w i l l be c i t e d here.  It i s assumed that S t u d i o ' s v i s i o n was  shared across the Channel. A s c u l p t o r i s here presented to us seated, the elbow r e s t i n g on his knee and the hand supporting the bent head, his face wearing an expression of sadness or even anguish, betraying a state of great mental tension—a longing f o r emancipation. The female f i g u r e i s symbolical of youth, of i n s p i r a t i o n — i t i s I r i s the messenger of the gods, who seems to be guarding something imponderable, something celestial.5 Both the idea of a "messenger from the gods" and the idea of "guarding something imponderable, something c e l e s t i a l " are conveyed by Brancusi's Muse of the following year.  As w i l l be seen, the element of s u f f e r i n g ,  p a r t i c u l a r l y as i t applies to a r t i s t i c creation i s also i s o l a t e d and explored i n other works, as i s u l t i m a t e l y that of emancipation and liberation. this.  But the s i g n i f i c a n c e of Rodin's group goes much f u r t h e r than  Le S c u l p t e u r e t sa Muse was a statement of Rodin's b e l i e f s on the  c o r r e l a t i o n between sexual and a r t i s t i c c r e a t i o n .  De Caso and Sanders  point out t h a t , It remained f o r Rodin to make t h i s e r o t i c r e l a t i o n s h i p between muse and a r t i s t e x p l i c i t . He wrote to his good f r i e n d , Helene von N o s t i t z : "A gentle woman i s the mighty intermediary between God and us a r t i s t s . . . . " He saw sexual love as a way to a r t i s t i c achievement: "I have heard the bellowing of my s p i r i t i n b a t t l e f o r woman. I have spied on myself in my moments of passions, of the i n t o x i c a t i o n of l o v e , and I have studied them f o r my a r t . . . . " . . . In The Sculptor and His Muse, t h i s a s s o c i a t i o n i s c l e a r l y expressed; the muse, who stimulates the s c u l p t o r sexua l l y while she whispers in his ear, has both e r o t i c and i n t e l l e c t u a l powers.5a As we s h a l l see, Brancusi's Muse also states the r e l a t i o n between sexual and a r t i s t i c creation in terms of a mediation between man and the gods.  62 But while Brancusi draws on Rodin for his i n s p i r a t i o n and his i d e a s , he also states them i n a highly_personal form, that i s in many ways the reversal of Rodin, and adds several other layers of meaning drawn p r i m a r i l y from Bergson. In opposition to the Sleeper, the Muse again breaks with Rodin's s c u l p t u r a l concerns.  Brancusi returns to an abstracted conception,  that of a s t y l i z e d head l y i n g on i t s s i d e .  Although recognizably female  by the d e l i c a t e l y delineated f e a t u r e s , and the t e x t u r i n g representing h a i r , the surface of the work i s almost undisturbed.  Brancusi has  emphasised the underlying o v o i d a l , egg-like form by reducing articulation.  figurative  The head can thus not be thought of as a Rodinesque  anatomical or s c u l p t u r a l fragment.  Conversely, the Muse has been observed  as a s i n g u l a r form, complete in i t s e l f . ^ Muse i s s e l f - r e f e r e n t i a l .  This i s not to say that the  Like a l l the works i n Brancusi's oeuvre,  it  takes i t s s i g n i f i c a n c e from i t s r e l a t i o n s h i p to the others in the s c u l p t u r a l system.  Indeed, i t can be demonstrated that the Muse i s a  p r e c i s e , yet complex, inversion and opposition to the Sleeper on, every level. For example, the Muse again refers to Bergson's d u a l i s t i c concept i o n of perception as expressed i n consciousness and unconsciousness. Indeed, t h i s reference here becomes f a r more e x p l i c i t .  The eyes of the  Muse, open i n the o r i g i n a l marble v e r s i o n , were polished in subsequent bronze casts to appear closed.  The reference to the "opening and c l o s i n g  of the senses" c i t e d from Bergson in reference to the Sleeper, i s now complete. conscious.  In opposition to the Sleeper, then, the o r i g i n a l Muse i s  63 The correspondence and opposition of conception between the two works e x i s t s , however, on both the contextual and formal l e v e l .  The  Muse, being conscious, i s , i f Bergson's ideas apply, t h e o r e t i c a l l y mobile and able to act on i t s environment.  As an expression of t h i s s t a t e ,  Brancusi has freed the head from the material matrix, the quarried rock, which enmeshed and immobilized the Sleeper.  The Muse, with eyes and  senses e i t h e r open or c l o s e d , i s never unconscious.  Rather i t i s "guard-  ing something imponderable," and pregnant with a c r e a t i v e mystery. v i s i o n i s turned inwards, not extinguished as i n the Sleeper.  Its  Nonethe-  l e s s , the r e l a t i o n s h i p between the eyes must be seen as l i n k i n g the two sculptures.  In t h i s case, the ambiguity of v i s i o n , rather than the  v i s u a l ambiguity, allows the dual nature of the Muse to mediate between the opposing states of l i g h t and dark and by extension, between those of sleep and consciousness. This i s confirmed by Brancusi's use of an a l t e r n a t i v e image of the Muse which was upright and aware.  This work  w i l l be discussed in more depth i n a d i f f e r e n t context as i t i s not generally associated with t h i s s e r i e s . Another set of complex oppositions i n d i c a t e that the treatment of the reverse side of the Muse has an importance equal to that of the face. It w i l l be r e c a l l e d that the balance between f i g u r e and ground (or i n t h i s case rock) from which the visage emerges was e s s e n t i a l to the pretation of the Sleeper.  There, the rough hewn marble behind the face  was read not only as s i g n i f y i n g n o n - d i f f e r e n t i a t e d material a l s o as immobility.  inter-  (nature)  I f the two works can be r e l a t e d i n sequence, and  s i m i l a r units compared, then i t can be seen that the non-defined rock  but  64 behind the head of the Sleeper has been transformed i n the Muse into an ordered series of s t r i a t i o n s representing h a i r and a c i r c u l a r motif at the base of the s k u l l — a chignon.  T h i s , in i t s e l f , i s not c l e a r l y s i g n i f -  i c a n t , although i t implies the complete imposition of order c u l t u r e ) on n o n - d i f f e r e n t i a t e d nature.^  (i.e.,  The treatment of the h a i r can,  however, also be read as the image of a human brain with the chignon appearing as the medulla: a v i s u a l pun playing on a s i m i l a r i t y of image or s i g n . ^  a  It has already been established that in Bergson's philosophy,  the medulla and brain order n o n - d i f f e r e n t i a t e d nature as they are the o  centre of sensory perception (consciousness) and of m o b i l i t y .  The senses  perceive d i v i s i o n s i n an otherwise continuous material world, of which they are p a r t , and put i t i n order by i n s p i r i n g action on i t .  Thus the  double reading of the h a i r as also brain/medulla i s r a t i o n a l l y and p h i l o s o p h i c a l l y related to the open eyes and the freedom from the imprisoning material matrix which separate the Muse from the Sleeper.  Graphic-  a l l y , one can see that as material matrix (nature) - u n c o n s c i o u s n e s s , immobility . so conversely h a i r , chignon (medulla) = c u l t u r e , consciousness, m o b i l i t y . The oppositions evident i n the f r o n t of the sculpture have been restated and provided with an ambiguous mediating element in the form of a v i s u a l pun which allows f o r a conceptual transformation between them.  The t r e a t -  ment of the f r o n t and back of the Muse are thus coherently and conceptually integrated and represent s o l u t i o n s to problems of a nature well beyond that of the purely formal or s c u l p t u r a l .  65 Some f u r t h e r explanation of t h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n  i s necessary,  however, to understand the process by which these important transformations are e f f e c t e d .  Puns are based on ambiguities or double meanings i n  s i g n s , or i n s i m i l a r i t i e s between them which disguise t h e i r and allow them to be interchanged in a play on words. t h i s operation often depends on the context.  difference  The success of  Thus the treatment of the  textured h a i r i s s u f f i c i e n t l y ambiguous as a v i s u a l sign to be i n t e r preted also as representing a brain/medulla.  A double reading i s p o s s i b l e ,  as both h a i r and brain l i e back of the f a c e , that i s they a r e " r e l a t e d by context.  S i m i l a r l y , the same ambiguity in the textured surface i s  r e l a t e d to the texture of the rock in the Sleeper, which also l i e s behind the head, and thereby shares in the same context.  The i n t e r n a l coherence  of t h i s system leads to the expectation of a d i r e c t r e l a t i o n s h i p , both contextually and conceptually, between quarry stone and brain/medulla. This has been shown to e x i s t by r e f e r r i n g to Bergson, in which they have a common context in that they r e f e r , in the s c u l p t u r e s , to the problem of mobi1ity/immobi1ity and consciousness/unconsciousness.  Such a t r i p l e  layered v i s u a l pun, depending as i t does on the overlay of an outside philosophical system, would seem excessively s u b j e c t i v e , i f i t were not corroborated by a corresponding verbal pun of which B r a n c u s i , as a s c u l p t o r would have undoubtedly been aware. moelle.  In French, medulla i s g  Quarry stone, or rubble rock, i s moellon.  Both v i s u a l and  verbal s i g n i f i e r s are close enough to be almost interchangeable when the context warrants i t , despite the difference i n meaning.  This double  correspondence between the v i s u a l and the verbal places the  interpretation  66 outside the realm of the f o r t u i t o u s , the accidental or the s u b j e c t i v e . But B r a n c u s i ' s use of t h i s pun i s of a s p e c i a l nature; i t i s not simply humor, a play on words, although i n t h i s sense the Muse does in f a c t amuse.^  The elaborate pun allows d u a l i s t i c concepts d i a m e t r i c a l l y  opposed to be transformed into each other through ambiguous mediating semantic u n i t s .  The Sleeper i s unconsciousness and immobility expressed  i n terms of n o n - d i f f e r e n t i a t e d m a t e r i a l i t y .  Conversely, the Muse i s  consciousness and m o b i l i t y expressed i n terms of ordered and d i f f e r e n tiated material.  The ambiguities in the units s i g n i f y i n g these states  allow one to be transformed into the other, the c o n t r a d i c t i o n i s overcome. The s i g n i f i c a n c e of t h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p to that between the unique form of the Muse and the copied form of the Sleeper i s c l a r i f i e d by returning i t to Brancusi's r e l a t i o n with Rodin and Bergson.  It has been  indicated that the Sleeper descends Bergson's evolutionary scale towards the unconsciousness and immobility of plant l i f e .  Conversely, the Muse  ascends the scale towards consciousness and m o b i l i t y .  But Bergson's  concept of c r e a t i v e evolution goes beyond t h a t , i t also involves a continued quest f o r new forms, f o r absolute o r i g i n a l i t y on the part of the s p i r i t d i r e c t i n g e v o l u t i o n .  Thus the.Sleeper again descends the  scale as i t i s a copy of what was before.  It regresses.  The Muse,  although based on a theme by Rodin, i s , l i k e the K i s s , an absolutely unique conception.  No precedent i s known f o r i t s form.  The "absolute  o r i g i n a l i t y " of i t s form thus progresses even further up Bergson's s c a l e . From t h i s point onwards, Brancusi never again d i r e c t l y copies a form from Rodin.^  Thus a l l the units of the two works, taken from t h e i r source,  67 form and content are coherently r e l a t e d , i f the influences of Rodin and Bergson are taken into account.. The works maintain the conceptual r e l a t i o n s h i p expressed i n t h e i r constituent units and in t h e i r whole as diametric opposites, or a c o n t r a d i c t i o n , reconciled through ambiguous mediating elements.  This may be expressed g r a p h i c a l l y .  sleep non-sensory perception darkness  The Muse  Ambiguous Elements  The Sleeper  eyes open and closed in the Muse  consciousness sensory perception light  Formal S i m i l a r i t i e s : both heads l i e on t h e i r sides immobility non-di f f e r e n t i ated material  Rodin copy of the past  mobility  verbal pun on moene/moellon  differentiated, ordered material  visual pun on quarry stone, h a i r , brain reference to Rodin in the Muse  Brancusi absolute ori gi n a l i ty  A l l of these oppositions operate to form a l a r g e r o p p o s i t i o n : descent on the scale of c r e a t i v e evolution (low)  ( a l l of the above)  ascent on the scale of creative evolution (high)  68 The underlying ovoid of the Muse may however have added meaning. Unlike faceted geometric forms, ovoids have continuous, surfaces.  non-differentiated  Brancusi has interrupted the conceptual c o n t i n u i t y of the ovoid  by subtle surface a r t i c u l a t i o n representing a face.  The image i s thus  an opposition in which the discontinuous ( i . e . , the defined visage of the Muse) i s emerging from the c o n t i n u i t y beneath i t .  It i s p r e c i s e l y  t h i s opposition with which Bergson opens Creative Evolution and the chapter on " D u r a t i o n , " and to which he devotes much of his study.  Here,  he discusses the opposition between the real continuity of perception and the apparent d i s c o n t i n u i t y of separate experience.  This i s explored  both in terms of duration i n time, and experience, and in material or 12 space. Brancusi, t o o , w i l l occupy much of his time with s i m i l a r i d e a s , although his conclusions w i l l be d i a m e t r i c a l l y opposed to those of Bergson. One of the metaphors Bergson uses for describing the apparent d i s c o n t i n u i t y of experience in the continuous duration and flow of time i s the image of separate beads on a necklace, held together by a continu13 ous thread.  This may also apply to Brancusi s s e r i e s of heads, which 1  also appear as beads, strung together on a conceptual  infrastructure.  These Bergsonian oppositions do not, however, c o n s t i t u t e the e n t i r e s i g n i f i c a n c e of the Muse.  Both the Kiss and Rodin's precedent  lead to the expectation of a personal statement on the r e l a t i o n s h i p between a r t i s t i c and sexual powers. element between these opposites.  Furthermore, we expect a mediating  A l l of t h i s i s present in B r a n c u s i ' s  69 Muse.  The underlying egg form i s an image of sexual c r e a t i o n .  The  superimposed, more s p e c i f i c , image of the Muse c l e a r l y represents artistic inspiration.  The two opposing forms of creation are thus made  metaphoric equivalents. their similarities.  They can be transformed into each other through  Indeed, i t would seem that in the Muse they depend  on each other f o r t h e i r existence.  Brancusi has thus s k i l l f u l l y obscured  the differences between them. But he also chose to state t h i s reconciled opposition by enclosing i t within another; that of the sacred and the profane.  The egg i s pro-  fane and m a t e r i a l , the muse i s sacred and belongs to the 'other world of the gods.  1  Consequently, the muse does not alone seem to be the  mediating l i n k between these oppositions. a r t i s t which performs t h i s f u n c t i o n .  Rather, i t i s again the  The a r t i s t i s at once in touch  with the gods through his i n s p i r a t i o n and- at the same time, to the extent that his i n s p i r a t i o n l i e s in his s e x u a l i t y , he dwells in the profane realm.  Thus in empirical r e a l i t y , i t i s the a r t i s t which j o i n s the  sacred and the profane, and the sexual and the a r t i s t i c .  As s h a l l be  seen, Brancusi l a t e r makes t h i s view, which he shares with Rodin, more explicit. With the Muse, then, Brancusi seems to be maintaining and extending the concerns expressed in the K i s s . creation in an image of sexual c r e a t i o n .  The Kiss sublimates  artistic  The Muse, conversely, sub-  limates sexual creation i n the image of a r t i s t i c c r e a t i o n .  In both, the  a r t i s t serves as mediator; in the f i r s t between nature and c u l t u r e , the second between the sacred and the profane.  in  This p a r a l l e l role leads  70 to the expectation of a d i r e c t c o r r e l a t i o n l i n k i n g the two oppositions. Le*vi-Strauss points out that such an equation between the two d u a l i t i e s does i n f a c t e x i s t i n mythological systems.  In his extended a n a l y s i s  of two Greek myths of Zeus and.Europa .and of Minos and the Minotaur, he reaches the conclusion that the underlying structure of each states that a l o g i c a l equation between, naturejand cul t u r e p a r a l l e l s that between 14 gods .and man. Thus three things become evident.  A direct relationship exists  between the Muse and the Kiss that i s not evident from any formal s i m i l a r i t y between the two.  The p o s i t i o n of the l a t t e r as the conceptual  cornerstone of the oeuvre i s thus confirmed.  Secondly, these c o r r e l a -  tions are to be found expressed in terms of o p p o s i t i o n s , p a r a l l e l s , and transformations, that i s , concrete l o g i c .  It becomes c l e a r then, that  although Brancusi i s drawing on the contemporary sources of Rodin and Bergson, he i s t r a n s l a t i n g them into terms of p r i m i t i v e  thought.  T h i r d l y , an exalted r o l e of the a r t i s t as j o i n i n g the sexual with the a r t i s t i c and the sacred with the profane i s beginning to emerge.  The  Kiss lacks only the element of s u f f e r i n g , also stated i n Rodin's Le Sculpteur et sa Muse, to make the correspondence complete.  As w i l l be  seen t h i s too emerges, and becomes e x p l i c i t as the oeuvre develops. The themes expressed in the K i s s , the Sleeper and the Muse thus allow,, in a small way, a l i m i t e d p r e d i c t i o n of the next work in the series.  Several expectations a r i s e .  A l l three works have had to do,  in some way, with the d u a l i t y of consciousness and unconsciousness. This has been expressed l a r g e l y i n terms of the eyes, that i s the  71 perception of l i g h t .  A s i m i l a r theme should also occupy the next work.  S i m i l a r l y , the concept of movement, or the a b i l i t y to shape the environment through consciousness has also been prevalent. occur.  This t o o , should  The idea of sexual creation must occur and be expressed i n  opposition to a r t i s t i c c r e a t i o n .  If the relevance of Rodin i s  correct,  the l a t t e r should involve an element of s u f f e r i n g . ' There must also be an opposition expressed in terms of the sacred and the profane, and ultimately,  in terms of nature and c u l t u r e .  F i n a l l y , the Bergsonian  dualism of dlan v i t a l e , or of s p i r i t and matter must be present. Without these continued themes, the following work could not be thought of as a continued discussion of the ideas expressed so f a r . may, however, s t i l l  New ideas  be introduced.  Brancusi produced two more heads following the Muse i n 1911.  Both  have t i t l e s drawn from Greek mythology: Prometheus and the Danaide. Although the two are also formally s i m i l a r , only the former i s usually placed i n series with the Muse.  The established precedent w i l l be  followed here. The Prometheus i s d i r e c t l y related to the Muse i n both form and content.  Brancusi has transformed the unitary ovoid of the Muse into  the spherical shape of Prometheus.  This sphere i s disturbed on the lower  side by the addition of a shoulder.  The head of the t i t a n f a l l s on the  shoulder in a gesture of torment which had preoccupied Brancusi for some time.  It w i l l also be r e c a l l e d that the male figure in Rodin's A r t i s t  and his Muse was also depicted as s u f f e r i n g .  Brancusi has avoided,  however, a l l the e x p r e s s i o n i s t i c p o s s i b i l i t i e s depicted i n Prometheus'  72 s u f f e r i n g , except the posture of the head.  15  The f a c i a l f e a t u r e s ,  rather  than being contorted, are even more refined than those of the Muse. Indeed, the l i p s , nose and eyes are barely v i s i b l e .  Like the Muse,  Prometheus presents a visage that hovers between continuous and d i s continuous surface a r t i c u l a t i o n .  This w i l l be seen to carry the same  message as in the Muse. In both subject and execution, the Muse and Prometheus have identi c a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s to the work of Rodin.  But again, Brancusi has gone  to greater lengths to emphasize the polar opposition between himself and Rodin.  This i s v i s i b l e in the expression or rather the expressionless  visage of Prometheus with i t s t i g h t lipped mouth, which suffers silence.  in  On the other hand, the "open mouth, [was] a f a v o r i t e device of 15a  Rodin's for expressing anguish." The formal s i m i l a r i t i e s and the common point of o r i g i n between the Muse and Prometheus would seem to indicate that the two should be seen as apposites rather than opposites.  This would i n d i c a t e , i n t u r n ,  that they express p a r a l l e l concepts rather than c o n t r a d i c t i o n s .  As the  form of one i s transformed into the form of the other, so should the concepts of one become those of the other.  This i s found to be p r e c i s e l y  the case when the content of the Prometheus i s examined and compared with that of the Muse. As has been pointed out in the e a r l i e r discussion of the Muse, the mythological reference of the t i t l e of Prometheus i s fundamental  to  the conception of the piece and i t s r e l a t i o n s h i p s with the other units in the system.  The r a t i o n a l i t y of the r e l a t i o n s h i p s appears when the  73 myths are broken down, through a process outlined by L ^ v i - S t r a u s s , into t h e i r constituent u n i t s .  As Leach points out, " L e v i - S t r a u s s assumes  that myth (any myth) can r e a d i l y be broken up into segments or i n c i d e n t s , and that everyone f a m i l i a r with the story w i l l agree as to what these incidents a r e . " ^  Or, as L£vi-Strauss s t a t e s , "Myth l i k e the r e s t of  language, i s made up of constituent u n i t s . H e constituent units of meaning mythemes.  c a l l s these gross  The object of mythological  a n a l y s i s , as has previously been demonstrated in the K i s s , i s to f i n d and i s o l a t e the mythemes in order to e s t a b l i s h t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s in the underlying synchronic structure of the m y t h . ^  a  It i s generally  agreed that these reveal diametric opposites which are resolved through mediating elements.  These resolutions are frequently effected through  l o g i c a l inversions or transformations in s t a t e s .  It i s not, however,  possible to analyse the Prometheus myth completely according to t h i s methodology.  Constraints of space make i t necessary to proceed  d i r e c t l y to the c o n c l u s i o n . The units which c o n s t i t u t e the Prometheus s t o r y , as i t would have have been known to Brancusi, are well known.  The primary incident  involves Prometheus s t e a l i n g the sacred f i r e of the gods from heaven and bringing i t to the darkened, chaotic world of p r e c i v i l i z e d man.  An  opposition between the sacred and the profane worlds l i e s ; c l e a r l y at the heart of t h i s i n c i d e n t .  Prometheus and the f i r e ( l i g h t ) are the mediat-  ing elements between the realms.  By v i o l a t i n g the taboo of the gods,  Prometheus endowed humanity with the power over nature which allowed f o r the creation of c u l t u r e .  A second o p p o s i t i o n , between nature and  74 c u l t u r e , thus emerges in t h i s transformation.  A s e r i e s of three p a r a l l e l  and equivalent opposites emerges, nature i s to culture as the gods are to man and as dark i s to l i g h t .  These o p p o s i t i o n s , i t w i l l be r e c a l l e d , are  present in the Muse as w e l l .  In t h i s case, however, i t i s Prometheus  rather than the i n s p i r i n g Muse which mediates between them.  As w i l l be  shown, however, the Muse and the t i t a n are also e q u i v a l e n t s , or at l e a s t so close to being such as to obscure t h e i r d i f f e r e n c e s . The next incident i n the myth has Prometheus teaching humanity c i v i l i z a t i o n and the a r t s .  This confirms the l i n k between a r t i s t i c  creation and the sacred expressed i n the Muse.  The a r t i s t ,  although  part of humanity, i s again seen as in touch with the gods, and mediates between the two realms.  Simultaneously, the a r t i s t transforms material  (nature) i n t o culture (art)  and thus mediates between them as w e l l .  Both Prometheus and the Muse are operators i n the transformation of art from the divine realm to the profane.  They are equivalents.  The correspondence between the two myths and sculptures c a n , however, be c a r r i e d f u r t h e r , by re-introducing the problems of sexual creation (the opposite of d i v i n e creation) and of e"lan v i t a l e which contains the opposition between material and l i f e force or s p i r i t .  The  l a t t e r r e l a t i o n s h i p i s found i n another incident of the Prometheus myth. According to several v e r s i o n s , Prometheus not only created culture but also humanity.  "Prometheus took some . . . e a r t h , and kneading i t up 18  with water, made man i n the image of the- gods."  Thus the t i t a n creates  l i f e in a s i m i l a r fashion to the manner in which a sculptor creates form. The correspondence between the (suffering)  a r t i s t and the (suffering)  god  75  is reinforced.  This segment also restates and resolves the Bergsonian  paradox—that of the o r i g i n f o r d u a l i t y of l i f e and i n e r t material—by o f f e r i n g a mythological s o l u t i o n .  Unlike Bergson's evolutionary con-  cept, which i s h i s t o r i c a l l y and s c i e n t i f i c a l l y o r i e n t e d , d i a c h r o n i c , Brancusi's occurs in mythic time and space.  i.e., It i s , there-  f o r e , synchronic, outside of time, and a n t i - s c i e n t i f i c . It has been stated that the Muse contains a reference to sexual procreation in i t s underlying form.  So does Prometheus.  As the myth-  i c a l Muse i s based on the ovoid of an egg, so the t i t a n Prometheus i s based on the head of an i n f a n t .  Indeed, as the Muse i s the o r i g i n of  a r t i s t i c i n s p i r a t i o n , and a r t i s t i c i n s p i r a t i o n i s linked to sexual creation (Rodin's Sculpture and his Muse  has the Muse with her hand  placed on the a r t i s t ' s g e n i t a l s ) , so Prometheus i s the o r i g i n of sexual creation.  It w i l l be r e c a l l e d that in the l a t t e r part of the.myth,  Zeus gives Pandora, the f i r s t woman* to the man created by Prometheus. The opposition between a r t i s t i c creation and sexual creation i s thus being obscured so thoroughly as to be i n d i s t i n g u i s h a b l e .  As w i l l be  seen, however, these are not the only problems of s e x u a l i t y that i t  is  necessary to solve in terms of obscured d i f f e r e n c e s . Brancusi gives the Prometheus myth new s i g n i f i c a n c e by i s o l a t i n g i t from the context of c l a s s i c a l mythology and placing i t i n a semantic system comprised of his own emerging oeuvre.  One would not, f o r example  in an analysis of Greek mythology, associate the mythological and s t o r i e s associated with the Muse and Prometheus.  figures  Yet Brancusi has  76 placed them together and emphasised t h e i r s i m i l a r i t y by making the units representing them almost interchangeable.  The r e l a t i o n s h i p s of the  units of each, although in an unusual context, s t i l l  operate on a  l e v e l common to that of mythology, although they express Brancusi's own philosophic and a r t i s t i c concerns. It has become evident that the correspondence between the Muse and Prometheus i s , beyond the s u p e r f i c i a l resemblances, highly complex, but perfectly rational.  As in the case between the Muse and the Sleeper,  the r e l a t i o n s h i p between the Muse and Prometheus operates on a l l l e v e l s . As terms i n a semantic system the two works are v i r t u a l l y  interchange-  able.  They u t i l i z e s i m i l a r forms, s i m i l a r content and i d e n t i c a l prob-  lems.  Their r e l a t i o n s h i p with the Kiss i s also i d e n t i c a l .  the same concepts.  They s i g n i f y  In a d d i t i o n , as w i l l be seen, subtle a l t e r a t i o n s ,  such as the progression from the ovoid of an egg to the spheroid of a c h i l d ' s head, produce a subtle s h i f t in meaning which i s necessary to preserve the l o g i c a l c o n t i n u i t y of the developing system and to a s s i s t in the movement to the next work in the s e r i e s . The semantic chain composed of linked s c u l p t u r a l u n i t s , of which Prometheus i s p a r t , continues with a p o r t r a i t of a c h i l d c a l l e d George, also from 1911.  Because of formal and technical d i s p a r i t i e s , George i s  not always included in t h i s s e r i e s .  As a commissioned p o r t r a i t ,  its  existence would appear contingent, rather than based on the p e r s i s t e n t l o g i c a l necessity inherent i n the works examined so f a r .  It must be  kept in mind, however, that Brancusi has been shown to use and choose his s t y l e and technique according to what he wishes to express.  It also  77 seems that Brancusi by t h i s time, had narrowed his production to two or three new works a y e a r , rather than the endless studies executed p r i o r to 1907.  He was accepting only those commissions which complemented 19  his integrated conceptions.  George i s , in f a c t , not only a p o r t r a i t ,  but also the culmination of a long s e r i e s of c h i l d r e n ' s heads on which Brancusi had been working f o r many y e a r s .  I t ' m u s t , then, despite  apparent d i s p a r i t i e s , be included as an important and i n t e g r a l part of the oeuvre under c o n s i d e r a t i o n . George i s male by t i t l e rather than form.  The eyes are c l o s e d .  The arms, with abstracted f i n g e r l e s s hands, are drawn up under the c h i l d ' s r i g h t cheek.  The head i s in repose, at peace.  It w i l l be  r e c a l l e d that in Rodin's Sculpture and his Muse, t h i s gesture was associated with pain.  Brancusi thus has departed e n t i r e l y from his former  mentor by withdrawing from and i n v e r t i n g his ideas.  This w i l l , i n f a c t ,  be the l a s t d i r e c t reference to Rodin to be found in his' work, i n terms of e i t h e r s t y l e or content. The causal or metonymical r e l a t i o n s h i p expressed by the s e r i e s of the Muse, Prometheus and George i s at the same time i n t r i c a t e and simple: From the Muse  comes sculpture, and l i f e  From Prometheus  comes sculpture and l i f e  From the a r t i s t s  comes sculpture and l i f e .  Therefore, Muse = Prometheus = Sculptor or God = A r t i s t Yet, at the same time, Brancusi has also equated c h i l d r e n and gods by using one to represent the other, so that both a semantic and  78 conceptual transformation between the two i s p o s s i b l e . f o l l o w , then, that a r t i s t also equals c h i l d r e n .  It would seem to  As we s h a l l see, t h i s  i s p r e c i s e l y the conclusion Brancusi reaches. If George i s to e s t a b l i s h t h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p and f i t  into these  equations, then i t must be seen as more than j u s t a p o r t r a i t of a d i s t i n c t person.  Rather, George must also be an " e v e r y c h i I d . "  The semi-  representational s t y l e of the work f a c i l i t a t e s t h i s mediation between the s p e c i f i c and the non-defined. evidence.  This i s , however, i n s u f f i c i e n t  The state of infancy must also be seen as conceptually cap-  able of containing both s p e c i f i c i d e n t i t y and g e n e r a l i t y simultaneously. Bergson c l a r i f i e s t h i s paradoxical nature of childhood, which Le"vi-Strauss also observes, following his discourse on e"lan v i t a l e . "Each of us, glancing back over his h i s t o r y ; w i l l f i n d that his c h i l d p e r s o n a l i t y , though i n d i v i s i b l e , united in i t s e l f divers persons, which could remain blended j u s t because they were in t h e i r nascent state . . ." Brancusi apparently shared t h i s conception of c h i l d r e n as ambiguous and u n i f y i n g , yet possessing d i s t i n c t  identity.  The nascent s t a t e , i . e , that immediately following b i r t h , i s s i g n i f i c a n t l y that which Brancusi explores in his next work.  Given the  problems r a i s e d thus f a r , and the tendency of the l o g i c a l progression to move from the polar extremes of the mythological to the mundane, from a r t i s t i c creation to sexual c r e a t i o n , and from the defined and adult to the non-defined and the c h i l d l i k e , the next work should further resolve the c o n t r a d i c t i o n between these oppositions with a statement about human procreativity, in a non-differentiated  form.  79 This, proves to be the case.  The marble Newborn of 1915 i s  generally acknowledged to follow George, o r , i f George i s not included,. Prometheus, i n the f i r s t s e r i e s .  The r e l a t i o n s h i p s between the t h r e e ,  which are e i t h e r formally or contextually d i r e c t l y connected, c l a r i f y Brancusi's progressive transformations. The form of the Newborn i s severely economical, and almost a b s t r a c t . The sculpture i s composed of l i t t l e more than an ovoid which has been i n c i s e d and truncated.  Three elements a r e , although highly s i m p l i f i e d ,  c l e a r l y v i s i b l e as head, eye and mouth.  The r e s u l t i n g image i s that of  a newly created l i f e which, emerging from the unity of the pre-natal darkness, i s experiencing f o r the f i r s t time both i t s own separate existence and the d i f f e r e n t i a t i n g  l i g h t of the empirical world.  It  is  21 emitting a cry in response to the separation.  The elements of the  form and the implications of the t i t l e operate together to e s t a b l i s h several oppositions.  The basic form of the ovoid on which the Newborn  i s based i s , as has been stated with the Muse, continuous, nond i f f e r e n t i a t e d and u n i f i e d .  Brancusi has again interrupted t h i s con-  t i n u i t y by a minimal surface a r t i c u l a t i o n .  Again, the opposition between  the continuous, or non-defined, and the discontinuous and i d e n t i f i a b l e i s present i n terms of form and content.  The Newborn, upon emerging 1  from the womb i n t o the w o r l d , i s becoming a d i s t i n c t , s i n g l e e n t i t y , conscious of the difference between i t s e l f and the world around.  This  i s represented by Brancusi by the a r t i c u l a t i o n of both the mouth and the eye.  The Newborn's cry has been interpreted as that of the "shock  of b i r t h " which accompanies the creation of d i s c o n t i n u i t y from c o n t i n u i t y .  80 It has been stated that nature i s continuous, culture discontinuous. The emergence of language s i g n i f i e s the s h i f t from nature to c u l t u r e . The cry of the Newborn i s i t s f i r s t attempt at language and s e l f consciousness.  As Leach says, " A f t e r a l l , although the human in f a n t i s  not born with any innate language, i t ij_ born with an innate capacity both to learn how to make meaningful utterances and also how to decode 22 the meaningful utterances into sound." The s h i f t from c o n t i n u i t y to d i s c o n t i n u i t y , and from nature to culture i s also stated in the i n c i s i o n depicting the eyes.  The Newborn,  emerging from darkness and d i s c o n t i n u i t y of sensory perception, i s f i r s t experiencing l i g h t or v i s u a l perception.  As Bergson points out, the  function of v i s i o n and consciousness i s to create d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n the continuous environment.  from  The senses perceive i n d i v i d u a l objects 23  i n what i s otherwise a continuous f i e l d .  Thus the emergence-of d i s -  c o n t i n u i t y from c o n t i n u i t y i s stated i n both form and content, and expressed metaphorically in terms of the a r t i c u l a t i o n of a continuous surface and i n terms of the b i r t h of a being and the b i r t h of a consciousness.  Again, form and content correspond p r e c i s e l y .  These complexities are increased in other a s s o c i a t i o n s . The Newborn, before i t was born, would be in the dark inner womb, unconscious and i n d i s t i n g u i s h a b l e from i t s mother, a paradoxical two in one, i . e . , Geist's cell division.  The inner dark womb and the outer  light-filled  empirical world emerge, in t h i s context, as p o l a r i t i e s on the a x i s between the continuous and n o n - d i f f e r e n t i a t e d , and the discontinuous or differentiated.  The oppositions are both u n i f i e d and obscured by the  81 Newborn which partakes of and mediates between both realms and states of being.  The Newborn, both formally and conceptually, stands on the  threshold between the two. The i n t e r n a l oppositions of the Newborn can now be examined i n r e l a t i o n s h i p to the other works in the s e r i e s .  The content and form  of George with i t s quasi-representational s t y l e , i t s proper name, and i t s d i s t i n c t i d e n t i t y seems to move towards the i d e n t i f i a b l e and the d i s continuous.  The Newborn, being c l o s e r to the unity of the. womb, extends  or d i s t i l s only those elements of George which are ambiguous. process, the Newborn has l o s t George's proper name, i t s  In the  distinct  personal and sexual i d e n t i t y and i t s surface a r t i c u l a t i o n .  The r e l a t i o n -  ship between the two i s one of transformation in a temporal sense rather than one of o p p o s i t i o n .  George, in t i t l e , form and i t s r e l a t i o n s h i p to  Prometheus, implies a developing adult i d e n t i t y , i . e . , growth and increased d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n .  The Newborn, conversely, moves i n the other  d i r e c t i o n , i t implies the pre-natal embryo, and n o n - d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n . In p a r t i c u l a r , as a newborn, i t i s polymorphous, i . e . , without d i s t i n c t sexual i d e n t i t y .  In a l l cases, the Newborn extends the d i s t i n c t  features  of George i n t o the u n i v e r s a l , the ambiguous and the continuous. This concept comes very close to Le*vi-Strauss' view of c h i l d r e n and the mental state of i n f a n t s .  In an extended discussion of these  subjects i n The Elements of Kinship he d i s t i n g u i s h e s between p r i m i t i v e (adult) thought and the thought of c h i l d r e n , which are of two e n t i r e l y d i f f e r e n t orders.  Nonetheless, he f e e l s that the thought of i n f a n t s ,  because they are the most non-cultured of i n d i v i d u a l s , could correspond  82 to the most universal aspects of thought in general.  He s t a t e s :  Every newborn c h i l d provides i n embryonic form the sum t o t a l of p o s s i b i l i t i e s , but each c u l t u r e and period of h i s t o r y w i l l r e t a i n and develop only a chosen few of them. Every newborn c h i l d comes equipped, in the form of adumbrated mental s t r u c t u r e s , with a l l the means ever a v a i l a b l e to mankind to define i t s r e l a t i o n s to the world in general and i t s r e l a t i o n s to others. But these structures are e x c l u s i v e . Each of them can integrate only c e r t a i n elements, out of a l l those that are o f f e r e d . . . . In comparison with adult thought, which has chosen and rejected as the group has r e q u i r e d , c h i l d thought i s a s o r t of universal substratum the c r y s t a l l i z a t i o n s of which have not yet occurred, and in which communication i s s t i l l possible between incompletely s o l i d i f i e d forms.23a Thus, f o r L e v i - S t r a u s s , as f o r Brancusi (and f o r Bergson) newborns border on the d i v i s i o n between the continuous and the discontinuous, the d i f f e r e n t i a t e d and the n o n - d i f f e r e n t i a t e d , the universal and the p a r t i c u lar.  As Le*vi-Strauss.says l a t e r , " i n f a n t i l e thought represents a sort 23b  of common denominator f o r a l l thoughts and a l l c u l t u r e s . "  By exten-  s i o n , one might postulate that i f Brancusi remained a c h i l d , then i t  is  conceivable that he could e x i s t in both the modern culture of the avant garde in P a r i s , and in the p r i m i t i v e c u l t u r e of his o r i g i n s .  Brancusi  seems to allude to t h i s conditions when he stated in one of his most famous a x i o n s , "Qiiand nous ne sommes plus enfants, nous sommes deja 24 morts." The conception of the c h i l d - s t a t e plays a fundamental role in Brancusi's system as developed thus f a r .  It performs a r o l e s i m i l a r to  that of the a r t i s t who also mediates between the opposing realms.  The  a r t i s t and c h i l d become interchangeable as operators in the transformat i o n from one end of the axis to the other.  83 This becomes more c l e a r when the r e l a t i o n s h i p between the Newborn and Prometheus i s examined.  A formal s i m i l a r i t y e x i s t s between the  sacred Prometheus and the profane Newborn. levels.  S i m i l a r i t i e s e x i s t on other  They share aspects of the same emotion: anguish, although  Prometheus suffers in t i g h t lipped s i l e n c e while the Newborn w a i l s . The introduction of sound always c a r r i e s meaning i n mythological systems. Its additional reference to the oppositions between the sacred and profane implied here, w i l l be c l a r i f i e d in the next chapter.  The two  sculptures are not, however, interchangeable despite the ease with which the form and content of each i s transformed into the other, and the f a c t that both contain a s h i f t from nature to c u l t u r e . Conceptually, Prometheus and the Newborn are d i a m e t r i c a l l y opposed. When interpreted in terms of content, the r e l a t i o n s h i p between them can be seen as a l o g i c a l i n v e r s i o n .  The Newborn i s brought from darkness to  the world of l i g h t and c u l t u r e .  Conversely, Prometheus brings l i g h t and  culture to a dark world..  The Newborn comes from the inner profane womb,  Prometheus from the higher sacred realm of the gods. l i f e , the Newborn i s created l i f e .  Prometheus creates  Prometheus produces a r t i s t i c c r e a t i o n ,  the Newborn i s the product of sexual c r e a t i o n .  The two works occupy  opposing ends of the polar axis that extends between the sacred and the profane, l i g h t and dark, nature and c u l t u r e , and a r t i s t i c and sexual creation.  In keeping with the purpose of p r i m i t i v e thought, which i s to  categorize p o l a r i t i e s and then r e c o n c i l e them, mediating elements have been shown to be present.  These allow one work to be progressively  (and conceptually) transformed into the other.  This i s effected through  84 the ambiguous nature of c h i l d r e n , and through the s i m i l a r i t i e s of form and s t y l e . On a larger l e v e l , the o v e r a l l series Prometheus - George - Newborn forms a temporal sequence based on the process of aging, i . e . , adult c h i l d - newborn.  This theme, as has been pointed out by de Case and  Sanders i s present in both Gauguin and R o d i n . ^ Rodin related the cycle of aging to s e x u a l i t y .  a  In  Youth and Old Age  B r a n c u s i , however, has  given i t a unique treatment which corresponds more to Bergson than Rodin. For example, Brancusi's s e r i e s at f i r s t appear as a set of states s i g n i f y i n g the various ages of man.  distinct  As such they would seem to  correspond to Bergson's metaphor f o r reason's perception of experience in time, that.ls,, l i k e separate beads strung on a necklace.  This i s not  the case however, for each of the sculptures in some way incorporates aspects of the other, they are consequently not discontiguous but overlap.  Prometheus, an a d u l t , i s based on the image of a c h i l d ; George, a  c h i l d , contains the Newborn.  S i m i l a r l y , the Newborn w i l l be demonstrated  to contain both the form and the content of the next work in the s e r i e s . Thus i t appears that Brancusi i s appealing not to reason, which separates, but rather to i n t u i t i o n which can grasp the c o n t i n u i t y which underlies d i s t i n c t  forms.  The l i n k between Brancusi's discourse on the aging process of adult - c h i l d - i n f a n t - embryo and Bergson's theories goes beyond the opposition between i n t u i t i o n and reason.  A more precise correspondence  e x i s t s which accounts f o r Brancusi's overlapping s e r i e s of s t a t e s . Bergson observes i n Creative E v o l u t i o n :  85 Like the universe as a whole, l i k e each conscious being taken s e p a r a t e l y , the organism which l i v e s i s a thing that endures. Its past, in i t s e n t i r e t y , i s prolonged into i t s present, and abides there actual and a c t i n g . How otherwise could be understood that i t passes through d i s t i n c t and well-marked phases, that i t changes i t s age—in s h o r t , t h a t . i t has a history? If I consider my body i n p a r t i c u l a r , I f i n d t h a t , l i k e my consciousness, i t matures l i t t l e by l i t t l e from infancy to old age . . . ^ b 2  In s h o r t , what i s properly v i t a l i n growing old i s the i n s e n s i b l e , i n f i n i t e l y graduated continuance of form. . . . Does the state of a l i v i n g body f i n d i t s complete explanation in the state immedi a t e l y before . . . [no] a l l the past of the organism must be added to that moment. Continuity of change, preservation of the past i n the present, real duration—the l i v i n g being seems, then, to share these a t t r i b u t e s with consciousness.24c Thus Brancusi seems to draw on an idea from Rodin, but transforms i t by t r a n s l a t i n g i t through Bergson.  He a l s o , however, gives i t his own  s l a n t , in that t h i s s e r i e s , l i k e the K i s s , denies the unpleasant r e a l i t y of death.  Unlike Rodin's work, which i s "a modern momento m o r i , remind-  ing man of the i n e v i t a b i l i t y of death . . . the unremitting passage of time,"  Brancusi's Prometheus does not age, nor does he continue the  process of i n d i v i d u a t i o n and d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n  from the Newborn.  Rather,  his form returns to that of the Newborn, j u s t as i n his mythic form, he i s caught in the continual process of regeneration.  Both the form which  Brancusi gave to Prometheus and his immortality avert the problem of death by turning the aging process back on i t s e l f . defeated.  Time i s once again  Nonetheless, t h i s process gives expectations of the next step  in the s e r i e s .  Adult - infant - newborn, as has been s a i d , implies the  presence of an embryo.  Indeed, Bergson's e n t i r e d i s c u s s i o n of aging i s  r e l a t e d to the growth of the embryo, the subject of reproduction and the emergence of the d i f f e r e n t i a t e d out of the  non-differentiated.  86 The expectation of an embryo i s confirmed by a p a r a l l e l movement in the s e r i e s through progressive transformation from a r t i s t i c and the sacred to sexual creation and the profane.  creation  The s e r i e s began  with the sacred sublimited in the form of the sexual (the Muse). t h i s means Brancusi obscured the differences between them.  By  Now, however,  the element of sexual creation i s becoming d i s t i n c t and separate.  By  reversing the s e r i e s , however, we can see how the terms designating each are in turn becoming i n c r e a s i n g l y i n d i s t i n g u i s h a b l e , so that as the two concepts become more e x p l i c i t and d i s t i n c t , the opposition remains d i s guised and one i s s t i l l transformable into the form of the other. In addition to t h i s expectation, i t must also be remembered that the philosophical paradoxes and d u a l i t i e s present in the  key works of  the Kiss and the Muse have not yet been t o t a l l y r e s o l v e d .  The basic  problem of elan v i t a l e , i . e , the d u a l i t y between l i f e and matter, has not yet been overcome i n sexual terms, although i t has been resolved in mythological terms.  In a d d i t i o n , the d u a l i t y between the continuous and  the discontinuous has only been stated in incomplete form, never by i t s e l f . The transformations of the f i r s t s e r i e s terminate in the Sculpture f o r the B l i n d of 1916.  A second version of t h i s conception, from 1920,  i s t i t l e d Beginning of the World.  Although s l i g h t l y d i f f e r e n t  i n dimen-  s i o n s , proportions and nuance Of s u r f a c e , each version c o n s i s t s of a p u r i f i e d o v o i d , devoid of defining surface a r t i c u l a t i o n . whole, s e l f - e n c l o s e d , n o n - d i f f e r e n t i a t e d , and ambiguous.  The form i s 25  read v a r i o u s l y as an egg, an embryo, a head and a pebble.  26  It has been As w i l l be  seen, i t s v i s u a l as opposed to i t s s t r u c t u r a l ambiguity, i s of  87 fundamental importance to i t s s i g n i f i c a n c e i n the s e r i e s . The r e l a t i o n s h i p between the Newborn and Sculpture f o r the B l i n d operates on both a metaphorical and metonymical l e v e l .  The l a t t e r ' s  n o n - d i f f e r e n t i a t e d unity l o g i c a l l y follows the formal progression towards abstraction which saw the representational George transformed in the 27 s i m p l i f i e d Newborn.  Sculpture f o r the B l i n d appears as the Newborn  with the minimal surface a r t i c u l a t i o n o b l i t e r a t e d .  If the Newborn's eye  and mouth motifs imply f i r s t contact with the outer empirical world and d i f f e r e n t i a t e d l i g h t and sound, the Sculpture f o r the B l i n d implies the non-sensory perception of the non-empirical world and the unity of the inner dark and s i l e n t womb.  Its t i t l e contains the idea of darkness not  otherwise expressed i n the form. Reading i t as an embryo would thus be l o g i c a l l y consistent as well as v i s u a l l y evident.  Sculpture f o r the  B l i n d i s the Newborn before i t was born. Content and form must, however, be complementary.  The embryonic  image must be conceptually n o n - d i f f e r e n t i a t e d i n B r a n c u s i ' s system as well as formally n o n - d i f f e r e n t i a t e d .  This again appears to be the case  i f Bergson's conception of the embryo as expressed in Creative Evolution i s taken i n t o account.  Bergson spends some time on the problem and  indicates that observation ' . . . shows that up to a c e r t a i n period in i t s development the embryo of the b i r d i s hardly d i s t i n g u i s h a b l e from that of the rept i l e , and that the i n d i v i d u a l develops, throughout the embryonic l i f e i n g e n e r a l , a s e r i e s of transformations comparable to those through which, according to the theory of e v o l u t i o n , one species passes i n t o another. A s i n g l e c e l l , the r e s u l t of a combination of two c e l l s , male and female, accomplishes t h i s work by d i v i d i n g . Every day, before our eyes, the highest forms of l i f e are s p r i n g ing from a very elementary form."28  88 Although Bergson's theories on the evolution of the embryo may no longer be v a l i d , at the time they were widely accepted and i n d i c a t e that Brancusi would have thought along s i m i l a r l i n e s , that i s , he would have conceived of the embryo as a n o n - d i f f e r e n t i a t e d and transforming i t s e l f i n t o a d i f f e r e n t i a t e d  cell  splitting,  individual.  The l o g i c of the present i n t e r p r e t a t i o n i s supported by the formal transformations from d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n  to n o n - d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n which corres-  pond to a regression from adult to c h i l d to infant to embryo, and when taken in a l a r g e r context which includes the Muse, from the sacred to the profane and from a r t i s t i c to sexual c r e a t i o n .  The ovoid of Sculpture f o r  the B l i n d terminates the temporal transformation with another t i m e l e s s , eternal image.  The synchronic i s again given precedence over the  diachronic. The key elements of inner darkness, womb, and embryo i n f e r r e d from the form were e x p l i c i t l y present when the work was shown i n New York, about 1917.  H.P. Roche* states that i t was kept in a leather bag with 29  sleeves through which to put the arms.  The darkness of the enclosed  sack implies a womb—i.e., female sexual c r e a t i v e p o t e n t i a l .  Similarly,  the sculpture in the bag might be read as a statement on male sexual 30 generative power, i . e . , a t e s t i c l e .  The conjunction of both egg and  t e s t i c l e create embryo in womb; the image i s thus both formally and causally s e l f - c o n t a i n e d .  It becomes i t s own " f i r s t cause" on both a  metonymical and metaphorical l e v e l .  This p r i n c i p l e has been grasped by 31  Geist who referred to the work as a "metaphorical egg of c r e a t i o n . " This view i s i n s u f f i c i e n t , however, and these i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s are e a s i l y  89 dismissed as subjective or p o e t i c .  Nonetheless, they are substantiated  when the ambiguities of the image and i t s place in the s e r i e s are systema t i c a l l y analysed.  In f a c t , Bergson again supplies us with a model for  viewing the embryo as both-male and female, or sexually n o n - d i f f e r e n t i a t e d . . . . i t i s only in exceptional cases that there are any signs of sexual glands at the time of segmentation of the f e r t i l i z e d egg. But though the c e l l s that engender the sexual elements do not generally appear at the beginning of the embryonic l i f e , i t i s none the less true that they are always formed out of those tissues of the embryo which have not undergone any p a r t i c u l a r functional d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n , and whose c e l l s are made up of unmodified protoplasm. In other words, the genetic power of the f e r t i l i z e d ovum weakens, the more i t i s spread over the growing mass of the tissues of the embryo; but while i t i s being thus d i l a t e d , i t i s concentrating anew, something of i t s e l f in a c e r t a i n special p o i n t , to w i t , the c e l l s from which the ova or spermatozoa w i l l d e v e l o p . 32  Further along he s t a t e s , "Not only i s fecundation i t s e l f the same in higher plants and in animals, since i t consists i n both i n the union of two nuceli that d i f f e r  in  t h e i r properties and structure before t h e i r 33  union and immediately a f t e r become equivalent to each other  . . . "  To the extent that t h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of Sculpture f o r the B l i n d holds t r u e , the r e l a t i o n s h i p s between i t and the key works—the Muse and the K i s s — a l s o become c l e a r .  A formal resemblance based on the common  ovoids establishes a r e l a t i o n s h i p between the. f i r s t two. s i m i l a r i t y obscures t h e i r thematic o p p o s i t i o n .  The formal  The egg/brain of the Muse  i s the basis of a r t i s t i c c r e a t i o n , Sculpture for the B l i n d i s the ultimate image of sexual c r e a t i o n .  The one operates in the higher  sacred realm of mythology, the other in the i n n e r , profane world of the womb.  Given the placement of each, one before Prometheus, one a f t e r the  Newborn, each should (and does) l o g i c a l l y occupy a p o s i t i o n at each end  90 of the two major axes between the sacred and profane, and a r t i s t i c and sexual c r e a t i o n .  As has been i l l u s t r a t e d , however, these oppositions  have been r e s o l v e d , or at l e a s t obscured, through mediating elements which operate through a s e r i e s of v i s u a l and conceptual transformations. The sexual content of Sculpture for the B l i n d also implies a d i r e c t r e l a t i o n s h i p to the K i s s .  This i s not, however, evident from any immed-  i a t e l y d i s c e r n i b l e formal s i m i l a r i t y .  Nevertheless, Sculpture f o r the  B l i n d i s the r e s o l u t i o n to the Bergsonian paradox of 61an v i t a l e contained in the K i s s .  The problem i s solved in terms of f i r s t causes:  an e g g / e m b r y o / t e s t i c l e , both creator and c r e a t e d , invests m a t e r i a l , or stone ( i . e . , i t s form as a pebble?) with l i f e .  Stone l o v e r s , male and  female, produce a f e r t i l e stone egg which combines the e s s e n t i a l features of both sexes.  Levi-Strauss has indicated that p r e c i s e l y t h i s problem  and t h i s s o l u t i o n are to be found in other mythological systems.  He  i n d i c a t e s that the Oedipus myth solves the problem of how to f i n d a s a t i s f a c t o r y t r a n s i t i o n between t h i s theory [of the autochthonous o r i g i n of man] and the knowledge that human beings are a c t u a l l y born from the union of man and woman. Although the problem obviously cannot be s o l v e d , the Oedipus myth provides a kind of l o g i c a l tool which r e l a t e s the o r i g i n a l problem—born from one or born from two?—to the d e r i v a t i v e problem: born from d i f f e r e n t or born from same?"34 Indeed, both the Kiss and the Sculpture f o r the B l i n d state and solve t h i s same problem of the paradox of a s i n g l e being coming from the union of two others.  In t h i s case l i f e infuses material through both sexual  action and the c r e a t i v e forces of the a r t i s t .  Thus the sacred and the  profane, the material and l i f e f o r c e , a r t i s t i c and sexual creation are u n i f i e d in the ambiguous imagery of the egg-shape.  91 M a t e r i a l i t y i s not the only opposite to l i f e — d e a t h or the return of the l i v i n g body to i n e r t m a t e r i a l , i s another. recorded in the Montparnasse K i s s .  Its presence was  Brancusi confirmed a reference to  m o r t a l i t y when he s a i d of Sculpture f o r the B l i n d '"I  put my c u r i o s i t y  of the unknowable i n t o it—an egg where l i t t l e cubes seethe, a human 35 skull.'"  The ovoid resolves a l l the oppositions of the K i s s .  Taking into account the work we have seen thus f a r , there should then e x i s t a formal conjunction between the two.  Despite the f a c t that  i t seems highly u n l i k e l y , one does, in f a c t , e x i s t .  Brancusi established  a connection i n a humorous l i t t l e piece i n which he painted the image of the Kiss four times d i r e c t l y onto an egg. Thus the s e r i e s seems to have completed i t s e l f . to i t s o r i g i n s .  It has returned  The years taken to create i t have been bracketed, time  has been suppressed.  Yet despite the apparent termination of the s e r i e s ,  loose ends appear in aspects of i n d i v i d u a l works which are not resolved in terms of binary oppositions or l o g i c a l equations.  This r e s u l t s from  the f a c t that the s e r i e s seen so f a r i s only a part of the t o t a l i t y , and forms only one category of works.  Despite the r e s o l u t i o n of c e r t a i n  problems, the information i t o f f e r s through i t s i n t e r n a l i s fragmentary.  relationships  Immediately noticeable as unresolved are the conjunc-  t i o n of consciousness and s u f f e r i n g , i n the absence of j o y , and the maleness of George and Prometheus, in the absence of females.  As w e l l , the  scream of the profane Newborn has no correspondence on the sacred l e v e l . Logical i n c o n s i s t e n c i e s in a philosophical system i n v a l i d a t e i t s conclusions.  If B r a n c u s i ' s system i s to maintain i t s coherency and i n t e g r i t y ,  the f i r s t s e r i e s must be r e l a t e d to others in such a manner that these problems are overcome.  91 A  1916 Figure 1  92  Footnotes: Chapter  III  1.  L e v i - S t r a u s s , La Voie des Masques, e d i t i o n revue, augmentee, et rallongee de t r o i s excursions ( P a r i s : P l o n , 1979), pp. 59-60.  2.  Bergson, Matiere and Creative Evolution (London: Macmillan, 1913) ( t r a n s l a t i o n by A. M i t c h e l l ) . Note that Brancusi had the 1914 French e d i t i o n i n his l i b r a r y , but the above authorized t r a n s l a t i o n w i l l be used here.  3.  Bergson, Matiere, p. 1.  4.  s  C r e a t i v e , p..136.  4a.  I b i d . , p. 141.  4b.  I b i d . , p. 11.  5.  The S t u d i o ' V o l . 43, 1908, pp. 324-325.  5a.  Jacques de Caso and P a t r i c i a B. Sanders, Rodin's Sculptures (Rutland, Vermont:. Charles E. T u t t l e , 1977) pp. 49-50.  6.  Both Tucker and Krauss have observed t h i s q u a l i t y . p. 46 and Krauss, p. 86.  7.  For a f u r t h e r discussion on the opposition between nature and culture as expressed in terms of the grooming of h a i r , see L e v i S t r a u s s , "The Bear and the Barber," i n Journal of the Royal Anthropological I n s t i t u t e , January-June, 1963, pp. 1-11, esp. p. 1.  7a.  This visual pun i s e x p l i c i t i n the Danaide of 1907, a work outside the s e r i e s , but nonetheless p r o t o t y p i c a l .  8.  Bergson, C r e a t i v e , pp. 116-117.  9.  Cf. Bergson, Matiere, pp. 15-16. Furthermore, to c a s t , as in statues or busts, i s mouler, o r , in the f i r s t person s i n g u l a r , j e moule.  See Tucker,  10.  Geist has frequently noted the humor underlying much of Brancusi's work. See G e i s t , 1975, p. 19, f o r example.  11.  In the f i n a l analysis t h i s opposition may be c a r r i e d f u r t h e r . Rodin was associated with m a t e r i a l i t y and u l t i m a t e l y The Descent into He!1. In keeping with the v i s i o n of himself as the opposite of Rodin (and following Bergson), Brancusi u l t i m a t e l y aspires to the sky and the s p i r i t u a l .  93 12.  Leach, pp. 70-75.  13.  Bergson, C r e a t i v e , pp. 1-4, and passim.  14.  I b i d . , pp. 3-4.  15.  Compare, f o r example, his e a r l i e r Torment in which the handling of the clay seems to convey much of the anguish of the subject.  15a.  Johnson, p. 18.  16.  Leach, p. 62.  17.  L e v i - S t r a u s s , Structural Anthropology, p. 210.  17a.  See i b i d . , pp. 211-230.  18.  Thomas B u l l f i n c h , B u l l f i n c h ' s Mythology (Feltham: Hamlyn, 1964), p. 14.  19.  For a f u r t h e r discussion of t h i s aspect of avant garde sculpture in France, p a r t i c u l a r l y as expressed i n M a i l T o l ' s monument to B l a n q u i , Action in Chains, see Ruth B u t l e r , Western Sculpture, D e f i n i t i o n s of Man (Boston: New York Graphic S o c i e t y , 1975), pp. 229-233.  20.  Bergson, C r e a t i v e , p. 105.  21.  According to G e i s t , "The work releases a c e r t a i n humor, and then, by a reversal t y p i c a l of Brancusi, turns serious as i t suggests c e l l d i v i s i o n and the shock of b i r t h . " G e i s t , 1968, p. 48.  22.  Leach, p. 38.  23.  Bergson, C r e a t i v e , p. 12.  23a.  Le*vi-Strauss, Elementary S t r u c t u r e s , p. 93.  23b.  I b i d . , p. 94.  24.  Cited in Lewis, p. 43.  24a.  de Caso and Sanders, p. 55.  24b.  Bergson, op. c i t . , p. 16.  24c.  I b i d . , pp. 20-21.  24d.  de Caso and Sanders, p. 55.  94 25.  See Krauss, p. 86.  26.  See G e i s t , 1969, p. 56.  27.  This should not be thought of as a drive towards abstraction pure and simple and thus as a paradigm f o r l a t e r developments by other a r t i s t s , as t h i s would not only disregard the complexities of the e n t i r e oeuvre, but also be denied by a l l of B r a n c u s i ' s l a t e r work and his own statements.  28.  Bergson, C r e a t i v e , p. 28.  29.  G e i s t , 1969, p. 56.  30.  This idea of e g g / t e s t i c l e was suggested i n d i r e c t l y by a passage in L e v i - S t r a u s s , The Raw and the Cooked, p. 44.  31.  G e i s t , 1975, p. 27.  32.  Bergson, C r e a t i v e , p. 28.  33.  I b i d . , p. 62.  34.  L e v i - S t r a u s s , Structural Anthropology, p. 216.  35.  Cited i n G e i s t , 1969, p. 57.  36.  G e i s t , 1978, p. 8 1 , i l l u s t r a t i o n 63, date unknown.  95  CHAPTER IV  Brancusi created a second series of works which p a r a l l e l s the f i r s t , both l o g i c a l l y and c h r o n o l o g i c a l l y .  This second series  also arises from the problems posed by the Kiss and the Muse of 1908/1909 and terminates in Sculpture f o r the B l i n d .  It  broaches  the same philosophical questions posed in the f i r s t , only i t  responds  to them in a d i f f e r e n t fashion which place the two in d i r e c t  logical  opposition as well as in correspondence to each other.  The p a i r i n g  of p a r a l l e l , corresponding yet opposing units that are formal t r a n s - ~ formations of each other completes the non-resolved loose ends.  It  also gives added s i g n i f i c a n c e to the terms of the f i r s t series by e s t a b l i s h i n g additional semantic r e l a t i o n s h i p s .  Most important,  it  gives new i n s i g h t s into Brancusi's working methods and his. thought processes. This second series has not frequently been analyzed in other studies.  It consists of those heads created between 1908 and 1916 and  not included in the f i r s t s e r i e s .  They have, aside from t h i s  negative  c a t e g o r i z a t i o n , several features which l i n k them metaphorically and e s t a b l i s h them as a s e r i e s : than l y i n g on t h e i r s i d e .  they are a l l female, and a l l erect A closer s t r u c t u r a l i s t  rather  analysis again,  r e v e a l s , however, that t h e i r semantic r e l a t i o n s h i p s to each other are more complex than t h e i r formal s i m i l a r i t y  implies.  Brancusi i n i t i a t e d the second s e r i e s of heads by o f f e r i n g an a l t e r n a t i v e conception of the Muse.  Although the f a c i a l features  are s i m i l a r i n each, the head of the second Muse i s upright and supported by the addition of a neck, shoulder and hands.  An immediate  contrast between the h o r i z o n t a l and the v e r t i c l e composition of each is unmistakeable.  The opposition in composition implies a further  opposition in the state of consciousness and movement.  Although the  eyes are again effaced and the figure seemingly in repose, the upright Muse i s p o t e n t i a l l y a l e r t and ready f o r a c t i o n .  It has been noted  t h a t , in Bergson's p h i l o s o p h i c a l system, the conscious mind works on the environment through the nervous system which i s , in t u r n , centred in the spinal column and the body.  The upright Muse, unlike  the f i r s t , has the torso and limbs necessary to e f f e c t t h i s movement. The additional elements conceptually complement the i m p l i c a t i o n of the composition, and serve a greater purpose than merely to hold the f i g u r e up. It becomes apparent that the two Muses are both semantic opposites and apposites in terms of both form and content.  Their  p a r a l l e l themes and formal s i m i l a r i t y are close enough to e f f e c t i v e l y obscur t h e i r differences, and allow an easy conceptual passage between the oppositions. the Sleeper.  This i s enhanced by t h e i r common point of o r i g i n ,  As w i l l . b e demonstrated, the r e l a t i o n s h i p between these  works begins to e s t a b l i s h a paradigm that w i l l hold true f o r each of the works in the remainder of the s e r i e s and w i l l supply a model f o r the r e s o l u t i o n to Brancusi's s c u l p t u r a l and philosophical problems.  For example, i f th'e second Muse i s both p a r a l l e l and opposit i o n a l to the f i r s t , then i t would follow that the work which springs from.the second Muse must also be p a r a l l e l and oppositional to the work which follows the f i r s t , i . e . Prometheus..  These r e l a t i o n -  ships may be expressed d i a g r a m a t i c a l l y .  Ki ss  I. , Sleeper ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ Muse-j  ;  ^  •  Muse,,  I Prometheus  I  George etc.  —  •—  —  ——  etc.  The expectations established by these r e l a t i o n s h i p s in f a c t , f u l f i l l e d by the Danaide of 1910.. of the Danaide was in marble. in bronze.  are,  Brancusi's f i r s t version  It was followed by a s e r i e s of casts  The o r i g i n a l marble was reworked about 1925, when the  •facial features were removed.  The o r i g i n a l  form:was preserved,  however, in the bronze c a s t s .  TWO' s t y l i z e d curves transverse the  f r o n t of the orb of the head.  They form the suggestion.of 1arge eyes.  A small nose emerges from the juncture of the shallow planes on which the eyes are s i t u a t e d .  The execution of these features i s character-  i s t i c a l l y economical, and follows v e r y . c l o s e l y the features of the Muses.  The chignon of the l a t t e r has also been included in a t r a n s -  formed state that i s again.more, s t y l i z e d and abstracted.  The neck  and shoulders of the upright Muse have been reduced to a minimal form, suggestive rather than i n d i c a t i v e , of t h e i r presence. The transformations which characterize the formal  relationships  between the upright Muse and the Danaide lead to the expectation of s i m i l a r correspondences on the conceptual l e v e l .  These e x i s t .  The Muse mediates between man and the gods, the sacred and the profane.  The Danaides-, as priestesses perform a s i m i l a r f u n c t i o n .  The Muse also mediates between the world of l i g h t and that of darkness.  S i m i l a r l y the Danaides, as w i l l be shown, mediate between t h i s  world and the world of shadows—the underworld.  The Muses contain  a referent to sexual creation in t h e i r ovoid-shape.  The Danaides  also r e f e r to sexual a c t i v i t y , only in i t s denial rather than i t s fulfillment. The conceptual transformations, oppositions and p a r a l l e l s only become c l e a r , however, when the myth i t s e l f is examined.  It i s here  a l s o , that the r e l a t i o n s h i p s between the Danaide and Prometheus can be found. The Danaide myth i s less well known in English culture than Prometheus.  This i s not the.case in France where i t has entered  the popular vocabulary.  Henri-Paul Jacques, who has studied the  psychological implications of the Danaid story s t a t e s : Le myth des Danaides e s t , a v e c c e l u i de Pandore, parmi les mythes grecs les plus connus. dans l e monde o c c i d e n t a l . La langue franchise .possede " l a boite Pandore," e l l e a aussi " l e tonneau des Danaides."1-  It w i l l  be r e c a l l e d that Pandora was the f i r s t woman, the gods' g i f t  to the men created by Prometheus and that i t was from her box that the torments that i n f l i c t the world emerged. C i t i n g the Nouveau P e t i t Larousse I l l u s t r e (1952) Jacques continues. On compare au •torineau des Dana'i'des un .coeun dont rien ne remplit les d e s i r s , un prodigue qui d i s s i p e a mesure q u ' i l regoit, etc.2 The h i s t o r i c a l evolution of the Danaid myth as perceived by scholars i s complex, and in many.cases contradictory.  The e s s e n t i a l  elements of the myth on which everyone seems to agree have, however, been i s o l a t e d by Jacques,. Les Danaides etaient les cinquante f i l l e s de Danaos. Persuadees, ou o b l i g e e s , de prendre pour epoux les cinquante f i l s d'Egyptos, leur oncle p a t e r n e l , e l l e s se. l i b e r e n t en assassinant leur maris l a nuitmeme de l e u r s no.ces. E l l e s decapiterent les cadavres des jeunes..gens et j e t e r e n t les tetes dans le^marais de Lerne, en Argolide^ ^Hypermestre avait ete l a seule a s abstenir„du crime et a epargner son m a r i , Lyncee. Toutes les a u t r e s , sauf e l l e , furent condamnees, aux e n f e r s , en expiation de leur acte impie, a remplir sans arret avec l e I'eau une j a r r e percee.3 1  The myth, as i t was being discussed in France during the f i r s t years of t h i s century, and would have probably have been known to Brancusi, had some a d d i t i o n a l and s i g n i f i c a n t embellishments. t h i s v e r s i o n , the Danaides remained v i r g i n s . seen, added to Jacque's i n t e r p r e t a t i o n  4  In  This has, as w i l l be  of the j a r and the flowing  l i q u i d s which seem to b e . t h e i r c l a s s i c a l iconographic reference as found in Greek pottery and I t a l i a n funerary monuments.  It w i l l  also  be important to t h i s analysis and gives an i n s i g h t into Brancusi's 5 treatment of the subject.  100 As Jacques points out, the Danaide myth f a l l s e a s i l y into two 1  segments—the double crime and: the punishment.  Structurally,  the  myth p a r a l l e l s t h a t . o f Prometheus which follows a s i m i l a r pattern of offense against the gods through, the breaking of a taboo, followed by eternal and c y c l i c punishment.  This i s , of course, only the most  overt example of the p a r a l l e l s between them and t h e i r symmetrical structure. fulfilment.  Both myths, Tike the Muse, contain references to sexual In f a c t , this, w i l l  be found to characterize every mytho-  l o g i c a l reference Brancusi makes:  In t h i s respect, both Prometheus  and the Danaide myths have been .treated by Freudian a n a l y s i s . Abrahams study on Prometheus RJve et Mythe appeared in 1909.^ Certain conceptual correspondences indicate that i t may have had some impact on Brancusi, although t h i s remains undocumented and w i l l be explored here.  The.study i s important f o r other reasons.  not  The  Danaide myth has more recently been examined by means of a Freudian methodology in the study by Jacques, c i t e d above. Abraham indicates that the f i r e of Prometheus may represent the power of sexual generation.  "The oldest form of.the Prometheus saga  i s an apotheosis of the human power of generation."^  He points out  " . . . the rod boring in the wooden d i s c , i s the nucleus of the oldest g form of the Prometheus saga." The s t i c k i s seen as a symbol of male sexual power, the d i s c f o r female.  "As f i r e i s produced by the boring  of a s t i c k in a disc of wood so i s human l i f e created in the mother's  9 womb."  Although neither his methodology, nor his h i s t o r y may be  p r e c i s e , Abraham's observations coincide with Jacques' i n t e r p r e t a t i o n •  101 of the Danaide's symbolic a s s o c i a t i o n s . Using: a . s i m i l a r methodology, Jacques sees the v i r g i n Danaide's vases as symbols f o r wombs.  That they are punctured, represents the  symbolic consummation of the marriage r i t e s .  The water flowing from  the vases i s interpreted*as masculine, a metaphor for semen.  They  thus symbolically reenact f o r a l l . time the sexual encounter they resisted. It i s impossible, at t h i s p o i n t , to prove Brancusi s awareness 1  of the f i r s t analysis and we can be p o s i t i v e that he did not know of the second.  The purpose in summarizing them here was not to postulate  a possible source of i n s p i r a t i o n or to give B r a n c u s i ' s work a Freudian t w i s t , but rather to point out. an underlying s i m i l a r i t y in the two myths that i s not n e c e s s a r i l y evident in the n a r r a t i v e themselves. Both s t o r i e s are thematically r e l a t e d : creation.  they concern sexual pro-  Furthermore, both myths are s t r u c t u r a l l y p a r a l l e l  if  examined from the point of t h e i r r e l a t i o n within French c u l t u r e , i . e . s t a r t i n g with Pandora and the Danaides, which are joined as has been shown, by t h e i r p a r a l l e l and popular symbols of the box and the b a r r e l .  In c l a s s i c a l mythology Pandora was the g i f t in marriage  to man from the gods.  The Danaides, as preistesses ( i . e . also  p a r t l y sacred) were a g i f t in marriage to the nephews of Egyptos. The two s t o r i e s have a symmetrical o r i g i n .  The sexual referent found  in t h e i r associated symbols i s made e x p l i c i t in the story.  With  Pandora, i . e . the f i r s t woman, sexual a c t i v i t y ; b e g i n s and hence profane procreation (as opposed to Prometheus' divine creation of man).  Life  102 as a cycle of b i r t h and death i s s t a r t e d .  On the other hand, with the  Danaides, sexual a c t i v i t y and profane procreation are denied and the death and destruction of man i s the r e s u l t .  The f i r s t ' m y t h creates the  r o l e of marriage and the g i f t of woman in the i n s t i t u t i o n , the second denies the r o l e of marriage and withholds the g i f t .  The f i r s t ,  through  Prometheus, symbolized the creative power of men, the second, through r i t u a l and symbolic c a s t r a t i o n , i . e . the beheading of the grooms, denies the c r e a t i v e power of men.  Pandora, as w i f e , i s fecund, the  Danaides, as v i r g i n s , are barren and die that way. are often found on the graves of unmarried women. are thus i n v e r s e l y symmetrical. images in t h e i r e x p o s i t i o n s .  Their symbols The two myths  They are d i r e c t opposite or mirror  Each episode,, however, returns to the  symmetry of i t s openings by terminating in punishment that involves a r i t u a l , c y c l i c and perennial reenactment of regeneration and procreation.  Other aspects could also be analyzed which would enhance  this simplified structuralist outline.  These i n c l u d e , for example,  a p a r a l l e l move from l i g h t to darkness or from t h i s world to a world of punishment, an underworld.  The b r i e f analysis given here, w i l l  however, s u f f i c e to point out the underlying r e l a t i o n s h i p between the myths and t h e i r place and operation in B r a n c u s i ' s s c u l p t u r a l system. The dual r e l a t i o n s h i p .of the respective myths, at once p a r a l l e l and o p p o s i t i o n a l , leads to the expectation of a s i m i l a r r e l a t i o n s h i p in B r a n c u s i ' s formal representation of the Danaide and the Prometheus. T h i s , in f a c t , occurs and has been recorded by most observers.  Both  103 works are based on an orb, rather than an ovoid, and are,, hence, equally distinguishable from the form of the Muses.. Both orb shapes have a minimal amount of surface a r t i c u l a t i o n  s i g n i f y i n g faces.  each case, the orb i s enhanced with the addition of a neck.  In  As has been  pointed out, however, the Danaide i s upright and female, and thus in opposition to the Prometheus.  The conceptual and.formal  relationships  between the two confirm the observation, f i r s t made evident by a s i m i l a r r e l a t i o n s h i p between the two Muses, that Brancusi" created two series of heads in which-each unit has a p a r a l l e l yet opposing conception.  He  'seems to have conceived these heads in p a i r s . Brancusi synthesized the formal elements of the upright Muse and Danaide and transformed them i n t o a p o r t r a i t of Mile Pogany in 1912.  The s t y l i z e d f a c i a l features and chignon of the Danaide were  wedded to the shoulders and arms of the M u s e J ^ head l i e s somewhere between an orb and an ovoid.  The form of Mile Pogany's Although synthetic  conception, the l a t t e r i s a unique and u n i f i e d image.^ A pattern of development can now be perceived..  It i s becoming  apparent that Brancusi was conceiving his works in two p a r a l l e l , symmetrical yet opposing s e r i e s . has been seen to be at work.  An underlying l o g i c a l  progression  If the analysis i s c o r r e c t , then a  coherent r e l a t i o n s h i p must occur.between the Mile Pogany and the corresponding work in the opposing yet p a r a l l e l s e r i e s .  Mile Pogany  follows the 'Danaide.  The Danaide corresponds to Prometheus, George  follows Prometheus.  Therefore Mile Pogany must correspond to George  in both form and content i f the axis of symmetrical development i s to hold t r u e .  in  104 The f i r s t evidence of correspondence between the Mile Pogany and George l i e s in t h e i r t i t l e s — t h e y are both proper names of humans, designating that each work, despite i t s s t y l i z a t i o n or s i m p l i f i c a t i o n of forms, i s a p o r t r a i t .  They are unique in t h i s category so f a r .  The use of proper names has, however, an additional in " p r i m i t i v e " systems of c l a s s i f i c a t i o n .  importance  Proper names, l i k e  portraits,  12 designate maximized d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n - i n  any system.  They form a  category beyond which i t i s impossible to proceed to f i n e r d i v i s i o n s . It has been shown in the f i r s t s e r i e s that the sculpture following George—the Newborn—moved to a stage of generalized n o n - d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n , both in i t s form and i t s t i t l e .  A s i m i l a r and p a r a l l e l  development w i l l be seen to.occur following Mile Pogany. In addition to s i g n i f y i n g s p e c i f i c i n d i v i d u a l s , the t i t l e s  of  both Mlle Pogany and George also i n d i c a t e a p a r a l l e l and symmetrical progression in both s e r i e s from the sacred and the mythological realm of the works preceding them to the profane. not of gods.  The names.are of humans,  The ambiguous dual- nature of Prometheus as c h i l d / g o d ,  combined with the equally ambiguous nature of children served as an operator in the conceptual transformation between the males,.  Similarly,  the dual nature of the Danaides as woman/priestesses and the ambiguous nature of woman as conceived in the e a r l y part of the century allow f o r a s i m i l a r transformation in the female s e r i e s .  In discussing  the female f i g u r e in Rodin's L ' E t e r n e l l e I d o l e , de Caso and Sanders point out "the t i t l e . . .  r e f l e c t s an a t t i t u d e towards woman expressed  in nineteenth-century poetry,, where women are frequently described as  105 idols." midi."  In support of t h i s they c i t e d Baudelaire's "Chanson d'apres"Je t ' a d o r e , o ma frivole.,/Ma t e r r i b l e passion "./Avec l a  devotion/Du pretre pour son i d o l e . " ^  3  Thus, the female i n s p i r a t i o n  for art partakes of the sacred,and serves as a t r a n s i t i o n from that realm to the profane in a manner that p a r a l l e l s that of George. correspondence may be c a r r i e d f u r t h e r .  This  It was indicated that  c h i l d r e n , in t h e i r uncultured s t a t e , are close to nature, the universal and the continuous.  Women also were seen in the second h a l f of  the nineteenth century as close to the wildness of nature.  As de  Caso and Sanders also state in discussing Rodin's Three Faunesses, " . . . a conception of woman as p r i m i t i v e , i n s t i n c t u a l and animall i k e was a product of Romantic l i t e r a t u r e , but i t became prominent in art only in the second h a l f of the century......... . .  His p r i m i t i v e  . . . fauns are symbols of primal emotions which long ago linked man •J £ k  more c l o s e l y with nature."  Thus, although both works are of s p e c i f i c  people, t h e i r subjects move into a transformative ambiguous realm. The conceptual correspondence in the s e r i a l progression in which Mile-Pogany and George p a r t i c i p a t e must also be confirmed by a s i m i l a r i t y of forms i f the system i s to maintain the coherence seen thus f a r . portraits.  This too, may be found by a comparison of the two  This comparison has been l a r g e l y overlooked, possibly  due to the s t y l i s t i c and sexual difference between the two works which were, however, created within a year of each other.  Each work i s  composed o f i d e n t i c a l V a n a t o m i c a l elements—head, neck, shoulders, arms and hands.  Furthermore the configuration, of these elements i s  106 in each i d e n t i c a l .  The arms are joined so that the hands are clasped  under the cheek, covering one ear, while the other remains exposed. The arms are separated from the head by a demarcating i n c i s i o n .  The  bottom edges: under the arms and shoulders in both are roughly textured. The shoulders and neck a r e , by c o n t r a s t , smooth planes.  The f a c i a l  features are simplified,^ a l b e i t more s t y l i z e d in the Mile Pogany. Allowing for the differences in the s u b j e c t ' s ages and sex, i t seems the two works could not be c l o s e r in composition and s t i l l their distinct  maintain  identities.  Like the r e l a t i o n s h i p between the myths of. the Danaide and Prometheus, however, George and Mile Pogany are both symmetrical and i n v e r t e d .  Brancusi has arranged the forms of each as mirror  images, rather than duplicates of the other..  While George's hands  rest under his r i g h t cheek, Mile Pogany's are clasped under her l e f t . The works are both apposites and opposites.  The formal  allow f o r a conceptual transformation between t h e i r  similarities  contradictory  elements. This opposition i s confirmed by the other aspects of the sculpture..  Mile Pogany i s female, George i s male.  Mile Pogany  is u p r i g h t , rather than recumbent,; her eyes are open, not closed and she i s , probably, l i k e the Dandaides, the object of sexual desire rather than the product of i t .  A l l of these elements form a precise  opposition between the two s c u l p t u r e s , and could a l l equally be applied to the r e l a t i o n s h i p between Prometheus and the Danaides.  107 The r e l a t i o n s h i p s along the v e r t i c a l axis are as symmetrical as those on the horizontal—the transformations, between the Danaids and Mile Pogany i s s i m i l a r to that between Prometheus and George. Both s e r i e s progress in a symmetrical arrangement, and are coherent and p a r a l l e l in development.  As has been i n d i c a t e d , both pairs'move  from the sacred and mythological realm involving aspects of e t e r n i t y to the profane and the temporal.  In so doing, human s e x u a l i t y becomes  more e x p l i c i t , rather than i m p l i c i t .  Rather than viewing e i t h e r the  creation or the eternal symbolic.re-enactment of s e x u a l i t y or regenerat i o n in a mythological timeless realm, we are confronted with i t in a s p e c i f i c and immediate and temporal:sense.  It w i l l be assumed that  Brancusi's a t t r a c t i o n to Mile Pogany was not purely P l a t o n i c . ever, the t i t l e Mile Pogany i n d i c a t e s her unmarried s t a t e .  How-  She thus  stands at the threshold between the sexual and the nonsexual, as well as standing between the sacred and the profane. The l o g i c of the system.and the terms with which i t operates and B r a n c u s i ' s method of expression through a s e r i e s of symmetrical developments, and transformations allows a prediction about both the form and the content of the next work in the s e r i e s .  108  Muse  Muse  Prometheus  Danaide  George  Mile Pogany  Newborn -  Sculpture f o r the B l i n d  The next work in the s e r i e s following Mile Pogany must c o r r e s pond to the Newborn, which follows George.  The Newborn and t h i s work  must therefore possess several p a r a l l e l thematic and formal features. It has been observed that the c l a s s i f i c a t i o n ; of person corresponds in each s e r i e s , i.e.. god.: god, Proper name .: proper name. born i s a n o n - d i f f e r e n t i a t e d i n d i v i d u a l .  The New-  To correspond, the work  following M i l e Pogany must also be a n o n - d i f f e r e n t i a t e d i n d i v i d u a l . Sexuality i s also important. entiated.  The Newborn i s sexually n o n - d i f f e r -  The corresponding work must share t h i s q u a l i t y .  Both  works must also make e x p l i c i t the transformation from the sacred realm and a r t i s t i c creation to the profane level and sexual c r e a t i o n . The new work, however, must not only contain these i d e a s , but also state them in terms of an opposition as well as an apposition  1 to the Newborn...  It was demonstrated, however, that the Newborn was  formally s i m i l a r , yet conceptually the opposite to the Prometheus, and that at t h i s point the system began to turn back on i t s e l f . This must also occur with the work following Mile Pogany,  It must  be formally s i m i l a r yet conceptually opposite to the Danaides. This formal correspondence can be c a r r i e d f u r t h e r .  The work  must be s t y l i z e d rather than abstracted or representational and must also be an elaboration, of an ovoid.  To continue the format seen thus  f a r in the second s e r i e s , which distinguishes and d i r e c t l y opposes i t to the f i r s t , the new work must'be v e r t i c a l rather than horizontal and express joy and pleasure rather than s u f f e r i n g .  As chronological  sequence has so f a r supported l o g i c a l progression, i t should have been executed about 1915.  Without such a complex of q u a l i t i e s ,  the work could not be properly s a i d to occupy the next place in t h i s series of female heads..  On the other hand, the chances against them  occurring c o i n c i d e n t a l l y or randomly are mathematically overwhelming. Although the q u a l i t i e s of the work following Mile Pogany can be predicted i n words, the f i n a l form cannot.  Brancusi answered  the l o g i c a l imperatives in his philosophical and sculptural system with a b r i l l i a n t  conception—Princess X of 1916.  Geist reports  that t h i s sculpture i s , l i k e Mile Pogany, a p o r t r a i t of a s p e c i f i c 13 person.  By suppressing the proper name Brancusi has s i g n i f i c a n t l y  made the t i t l e n o n s p e c i f i c , thereby f u l f i l l i n g the necessary c l a s s i f i c a t i o n of being, l i k e the Newborn, noniden.tifiable as an i n d i v i d u a l The necessary formal . q u a l i t i e s are also present in Princess X:  the  no work is s t y l i z e d , but not a b s t r a c t , i t is erect and is based, in p r o f i l e , on a configuration of ovoids.  The t i t l e d i r e c t s our per-  ception, to read the image as composed of an ovo.idal head, elongated neck, arm, and/or shoulder/breast—in s h o r t , a sensuous and almost voluptuous female shape.  When seen in p r o f i l e , however, the form  appears as the exact reverse:  :  a phalTic image.  This visual and sexual  ambiguity, based again on a remarkable visual pun, must, despite 14 G e i s t ' s protest to the contrary, be seen as d e l i b e r a t e .  The unmis-  takeable recognition led to the r e j e c t i o n ^ o f the work from the 1920 Salon des Independents.  From a d i f f e r e n t perspective, i t becomes  apparent that the sexual ambiguity present in Princess X corresponds to the sexually nondifferentiated Newborn.  Neither are e i t h e r  male or female—although they approach genderlessness from opposite d i r e c t i o n s , the Newborn i s p o t e n t i a l l y both, the other i s and emphatically both.  explicitly  Thus, i n terms of sexual and personal  i d e n t i t y , as well as form, Princess X i s in opposition and apposition to the Newborn.  The necessary symmetrical-aspects are present.  The correspondence also functions in terms of metonymical sequence.  The joined phallus and sensuous female are the cause, the  Newborn • the e f f e c t , of sexual procreation. i s also o p p o s i t i o n a l .  But t h i s  relationship  The reference in the Princess X i s to the  pleasure of two joined i n d i v i d u a l s rather than the s u f f e r i n g and the. separation of one. differentiation,  As the Newborn i s experiencing the f i r s t h i n t of  Princess. X sinks i n t o ambiguity—both, however,  hover on the edge of  non-differentiation.  Ill This celebration of sexual f u l f i l l m e n t places the Princess X in d i r e c t opposition to the Danaide, j u s t as the Newborn was in d i r e c t conceptual, opposition to the Prometheus. the two series are thus complete.  The p a r a l l e l s between  They are undeniably isomorphic.  The Princess X also hovers between the synchronic and the d i a chronic.  It brackets time as well as s e x u a l i t y .  It i s expressed  in forms that are almost mechanical in t h e i r p r e c i s i o n , and are thus embedded in Brancusi's temporal e r a .  On the other hand, the theme  of a joined female/phallus pun.goes back to the Auregnacian period 15 of  pre-history. The next l o g i c a l , chronological and formaT.transformation  in the  series of female heads following Princess X must possess several c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s i f the l o g i c of the system i s to be preserved.  In  p a r t i c u l a r , i t must be more a b s t r a c t , more ambiguous and more nondifferentiated.  Only the Sculpture f o r the B l i n d contains the  necessary formaT and conceptual q u a l i t i e s .  It has already been dem-  onstrated to form the termination of the s e r i e s of male heads.  If  i t serves a s i m i l a r function with the female s e r i e s , then i t must not only be able t o resolve the problems of both, but also operate as a t r a n s i t i o n between the two p a r a l l e l and symmetrical yet opposing series.  Its conceptual ambiguity must overcome the antagonisms of  the two groups.  This can be demonstrated to be the case.  In f a c t , when Sculpture f o r the B l i n d i s placed, between the two semantic chains which each become i n c r e a s i n g l y abstract with the Newborn ' i n one case and.Princess X in the other, i t s meaning i s not only  112 enhanced, but c l a r i f i e d .  Simultaneously, t h i s semantic arrangement  reinforces the conceptual symmetry between the Newborn and Princess X observed e a r l i e r . It has been stated that the n o n - d i f f e r e n t i a t e d ovoid of Sculpture for the B1ind .may be interpreted as the sculptural equivalent, or metaphorical s i g n , f o r an egg, a t e s t i c l e or an embryo in a womb. The ambiguity of the form i s precise semanti cal.ly in that i t  dis-  t i l l s and combines the e s s e n t i a l yet opposing sexual elements of the two s e r i e s . chain.  It can be used as a terminating, term in e i t h e r semantic  Simultaneously, as embryo, i t  and independent of them..  i s also sexually  non-differentiated  The r e l a t i o n s h i p between these works can  therefore be seen as both a metaphorical and metonymical transformation. Princess X i s a combination of a p h a l l i c and female form.  At the  point of juncture of these two elements, that i s , coitus and sexual conception, an embryo i s produced:  Sculpture f o r the B l i n d .  As we  follow the equation along the transformative a x i s , we come to the l a s t work in the previous s e r i e s : t i o n of the embryo a f t e r b i r t h . mediates between these two works.  The Newborn which i s the manifestaThe Sculpture f o r the B l i n d thus Consequently, i t combines elements  of both and i s independently, cause (as o v a r y / t e s t i c a l ) , (egg) and effect,(embryo). temporal sequence.  potential  The mediation occurs on both a causal and  Thus, i n mediating between the Princess X and the  Newborn , Sculpture for, the B l i n d also mediates between and j o i n s the 1  two opposing yet p a r a l l e l s e r i e s .  The existence of t h i s l i n k forms  the s o l u t i o n to the problem stated in the K i s s .  Indeed, i n r e t r o -  112 A  Sculpture for the Blind 1916 Figure 2  113 spect the j o i n i n g of the two groups seems l o g i c a l l y unavoidable, as does the existence of the small work c i t e d e a r l i e r in which the image of the Kiss was painted d i r e c t l y on an egg, thus l i n k i n g Sculpture f o r the Blind., and the f i r s t key work, and j o i n i n g the two pure geometric opposites:"block and ovoid. But while l o g i c a l l y i n e v i t a b l e , i t i s h i s t o r i c a l l y unusual. Such a detached, e x p l i c i t and philosophical view of s e x u a l i t y i s highly uncommon i n t h i s pre-war e r a .  Such expressions would not emerge as  a popular s c u l p t u r a l theme u n t i l the l a t e 1920's with L i p c h i t z ' s 16 The Couple, or the S u r r e a l i s t o b j e c t s . somewhat o f . a pioneer in the f i e l d .  Brancusi thus emerges as  A l b e r t Elsen has noticed t h i s in  a quotation c i t e d e a r l i e r in a d i f f e r e n t  context, but worth repeating  and e n l a r g i n g . Primordial form was appropriate f o r a primal a c t . Henri Bergson may have been to Brancusi what Baudelaire was to Rodin. Branc u s i ' s art was responsive to the climate in P a r i s , influenced by Bergson, that saw l i f e as l i v e d in the i r r a t i o n a l , expressed in v i t a l urges, and which .affirmed i n t u i t i o n .as a r e l i a b l e path to t r u t h . His (Brancusi's) s i n c e r i t y and s i m p l i c i t y of nature gave i n t e g r i t y and conviction to his e r o t i c Birds in Space, Torso of a Young:. Man, and Princess X. Eroticism was not a s u b - s t y l e intended f o r a c e r t a i n private c l i e n t e l e , but the sincere and d i r e c t manifestation of the a r t i s t . Early modern sculptors passed on to generations a f t e r the f i r s t war a.new candor and s o p h i s t i c a t i o n in t r e a t i n g human sexual l i f e . 1 7 While E l s e n ' s comments may over s i m p l i f y both Brancusi and Bergson, j o i n i n g the two on the subject of reproduction gives an i n s i g h t into both the source of Brancusi's conceptions and the formal treatment of i t .  Bergson, in Creative E v o l u t i o n , i s quite e x p l i c i t  on the subject.  In f a c t , he employs a set of images which p a r a l l e l  Brancusi's sequence of sculptures p r e c i s e l y .  Speaking of the " v i t a l  113 A  Figure 3  114 p r i n c i p l e " and attempting to undermine anyconcept of absolute i n d i v i d u a l i s m , Bergson s t a t e s : An organism such as a higher vertebrate i s the most i n d i v i duated of a l l organisms; y e t , i f we take i n t o account that i t i s only the development of an ovum forming part of the body of the mother and of a spermatazoon' belonging to the body of i t s f a t h e r , that the egg ( i . e . the ovum f e r t i l i z e d ) i s a connecting l i n k between the two progenitors since i t i s common to t h e i r two substances, we s h a l l r e a l i z e that every i n d i v i d u a l organism even that -of man, i s merely a bud that sprouted in the combined body of both i t s parents. Where, then, does the v i t a l p r i n c i p l e of the i n d i v i d u a l begin or end?18 While the f i r s t part of the quote gives a source for the s u b j e c t . o f the three works, the l a t t e r supplies a paradigm f o r the formal discussion of the problem of n o n - d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n entiation.  and d i f f e r -  Indeed, the sculptural s o l u t i o n to the problem Bergson  poses at the end of the quote i s obviously:  the v i t a l  principle  of an i n d i v i d u a l begins with the Newborn and ends in sexual reprod u c t i o n , with Princess X, or in other words (or in t h i s case forms) with Sculpture f o r the B l i n d .  :ln t h i s context, i t should be r e c a l l e d  that Bergson opposes sexual reproduction to the tendency to 19 individualism.  Bergson r e - i t e r a t e s that concept in the context of  the statement by showing how i t favors a concept of l i f e which " . forms a s i n g l e whole.. . . and which co-ordinates not only the parts of an organism i t s e l f , but also each l i v i n g being with the c o l l e c t i v e 20 whole of a l l o t h e r s . " life:  Sexual reproduction, in f a c t , l i n k s a l l  p l a n t , animal and human.  The history of each can be traced  back to the s p l i t t i n g of the f i r s t c e l l . to Brancusi's Sculpture f o r the B l i n d .  This concept adds complexity As a cosmic egg, i t should not  only solve the problem of the o r i g i n of human l i f e but also that of  115 other species... T h i s , in t u r n , leads d i r e c t l y into the next two series which d e a l : p r e c i s e l y with that of which Bergson speaks, animal  life. Reviewing the f i r s t two s e r i e s , i t becomes evident that they form  a p a r a l l e l progression of related binary oppositions which are joined at both points of o r i g i n and termination.  Levi-Strauss offers a  conceptual paradigm f o r t h i s type of s t r u c t u r a l arrangement.  "Seq-  uences arranged in transformation groups, as i f around a germinal molecule, j o i n up with the i n i t i a l  group and reproduce i t s  structure  21 and determinative tendencies." The r e l a t i o n s h i p s of the units also operate in accordance with L e v i - S t r a u s s ' theories on " p r i m i t i v e thought."  Brancusi uses  p a r a l l e l s , transformations and oppositions based on metaphorical and metonymical r e l a t i o n s h i p s , c o d i f i e d in units in semantic chains, to categorize and r e c o n c i l e d u a l i t i e s and contradictions inherent in empirical r e a l i t y .  As has been shown, t h i s progression  corresponds p r e c i s e l y to L e v i - S t r a u s s ' s t h e o r i e s .  It also r e f l e c t s  ideas expressed, a l b e i t less s y s t e m a t i c a l l y , by Bergson. Concepts . . . generally go together in couples and represent two c o n t r a r i e s . There i s hardly any concrete r e a l i t y which cannot be observed from two opposing standpoints,-which cannot consequently be subsumed under two antagonistic concepts. . Hence a t h e s i s and an a n t i t h e s i s which we endeavor in vain to reconcile l o g i c a l l y , f o r the very simple reason that i t i s impossible, with concepts and observations taken from- outside points of view, to make a t h i n g . But from the o b j e c t , seized by i n t u i t i o n , , we pass e a s i l y in many cases to the two cont r a r y concepts; and as in that way t h e s i s and a n t i t h e s i s can be seen to spring from r e a l i t y , we grasp at the same time how i t i s that the two are opposed and how they are r e c o n c i l e d .  115 A  Mythological denial of l i f e & sexual creation  Mythological o r i g i n of l i f e & sexual creation  Ofq Level of specific  Level of ambiguity Result of sexual creation —agony  Cause of sexual creation —pleasure Level of n o n - d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n Bergsonian (scientific origin) of l i f e Figure 4  116 It i s true that to accomplish t h i s , i t i s necessary to proceed by a reversal of the usual work of the i n t e l l e c t . 2 2 Brancusi has, i t would seem, following Bergson, posed a set of r e l a t e d philosophical and sculptural problems by s t a t i n g them in terms of t h e s i s / a n t i t h e s i s , and resolving the c o n t r a d i c t i o n in an "intuitive"  concrete object synthesizing both.  Brancusi has also used  a reversal of normal l o g i c , i . e . the form of " p r i m i t i v e "  thought.  The sexual opposition between male and female was stated i n the K i s s . The two sexes were then separated in Prometheus and the Danaide, and given d i s t i n c t i d e n t i t i e s  in George and Mile Pogany.  The Newborn  and Princess X, on the other hand, disguised the differences by the ambiguity of t h e i r images and allow us to " . . . pass e a s i l y . . . the two contrary concepts" of male and female. differentiated  to  F i n a l l y , the non-  Sculpture for the B l i n d synthesized the two aspects  in a s i n g l e image.  The series can be seen to proceed p h i l o s o p h i c a l l y  from the statement of a problem on d u a l i t i e s , through i t s  exposition  and the c l a r i f i c a t i o n of i t s terms, to i t s eventual r e s o l u t i o n in a form of "concrete l o g i c " which overcomes the c o n t r a d i c t i o n by d i s guising and obscuring the d i f f e r e n c e s .  )  117  Footnotes:  1.  Chapter IV  Henri-Paul Jacques, Mythologie et Psychanalyse, Le Chatiment des Danaides (Ottawa: Lemeac, 1969), p. 39. ' ' ~~~  2.  Ibid.  3.  I b i d . , pp. 40-41.  4.  I b i d . , pp. 64-65.  5.  In h i s t o r i c a l context, the sexually a t t r a c t i v e female murderer/ beheader/castrator or femme f a t a l e has played an important role in symbolist thought and iconography. Gustav Moreau, for example, executed paintings of both Salome and John the B a p t i s t . It could also be noted that Moreau also painted a s t r i k i n g image of Prometheus. , It i s not, however, i n these symbolist c i r c l e s that one needs to search in order to discover the s i g n i f i c a n c e . of the Danaides to Brancusi. It i s rather the structure of the myth, i t s representation and i t s place in his sculptural oeuvre that are most r e v e a l i n g . Brancusi had, however, e x p e r i m e n t e d with a somewhat s i m i l a r theme at an e a r l i e r date. A photograph of his studio in 1905 shows a small representational study showing.a female r e s i s t i n g the advances of a male.  6.  Karl Abraham, Dreams and Myths, a study in race psychology,, nervous and mental disease monograph no. 15 (New York: The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease Publishing Company, 1913).  7.  I b i d . , p. 60.  8.  I b i d . , p. 62.:  9.  I b i d . , p. 29.  10.  See G e i s t , 1969, p. 99.  11.  Some problems seem to have occurred. Possibly d i s s a t i s f i e d with the f i r s t c o n f i g u r a t i o n , Brancusi refined the forms in 1919 and again in 1931. The a l t e r a t i o n s resulted in a t i g h t e r conc e p t i o n ; the elements which characterized the o r i g i n a l were, however, preserved in each case.  118 12.  See L e v i - S t r a u s s , "The Individual as S p e c i e s , " Chapter 7, in The Savage Mind, esp. pp. 200-216.  T2a.  de Caso and Sanders, p. 65 and p. 66 n. 5.  12b.  I b i d . , p. 173.  13.  A bronze version was shown as Princess Bonaparte at the Society . of Independent A r t i s t s , New York, A p r i l 10-May 6, 1917. G e i s t , 1975, p. 181. The t i t l e may thus well refer to the famous work by Canova, Pauline Bonaparte as Venus V i c t r i x of 1808 in the G a l l e r i a Borghese, Rome, or i t may be the p o r t r a i t of a s p e c i f i c person a l i v e in P a r i s . See G e i s t , 1969, p. 78. ' In e i t h e r case, what i s important i s that the name was subsequently omitted.  14.  I b i d . , p. 78.  15.  See Georges B a t a i l i e , L e s Larmes d'Eros ( P a r i s : Pauver, 1971). Esp. the '"Calembour p l a s t i c ' " , (un nu femme prennant une a l l u r e phallique). Statuette aurignaciennce de S i r e u i l (Dordogne).  16.  E p s t e i n ' s copulating Doves of 1914-1915 are a notable exception. For a d i s c u s s i o n ' o f .the r e l a t i o n s h i p between Epstein and Brancusi, see G e i s t , 1968, p. 149.  17.  E l s e n , O r i g i n s , pp. 29-30.  18.  Bergson, C r e a t i v e , p. 45.  19.  I b i d . , p. 14.  20.  Ibid.  21.  L e v i - S t r a u s s , The Raw and the Cooked, p. 3.  22.  Bergson, S e l e c t i o n s , p. 211. •  119  CHAPTER V  Although seemingly complete in themselves, the two series of human heads constitute only half of Brancusi's stone sculptures. The remainder of his oeuvre i s devoted to animal and b i r d images. This d i v i s i o n of Brancusi's sculptural universe into humans and animals must, i f our methodology i s c o r r e c t , be one of o p p o s i t i o n .  Levi-  Strauss indicates that t h i s precondition i s , in f a c t , common to a l l p r i m i t i v e mythological systems, and that the opposition between animals and humans i s related to that between gods and humans and u l t i m a t e l y , nature and c u l t u r e .  Leach explains t h i s important d i v i s i o n which  l i e s at the core of much of both p r i m i t i v e and modern philosophical systems. L e v i - S t r a u s s ' central i n t e l l e c t u a l puzzle i s one to which European philosophers have returned over and over again; indeed i f we accept L e v i - S t r a u s s ' own view of the matter i t i s a problem which puzzles a l l mankind, everywhere, always. Quite simply: What i s man? Man i s an animal, a member of the species Homo sapiens, c l o s e l y related to the great Apes and more d i s t a n t l y to a l l other l i v i n g species past and present. But Man, we a s s e r t , i s a human being, and in saying that we evidently mean that he i s , in some way, other than ' j u s t an a n i m a l . ! But in what way i s he other? The concept of humanity as d i s t i n c t from animality does not r e a d i l y t r a n s l a t e into exotic languages but i t i s L e v i - S t r a u s s ' thesis that a d i s t i n c t i o n of t h i s sort—corresponding to the opposition Culture/Nature— i s always l a t e n t in men's customary attitudes and behaviours even when i t i s not e x p l i c i t l y formulated in words L e v i - S t r a u s s ' s central preoccupation i s to explore the d i a l e c t i c a l process by which t h i s apotheosis of ourselves as human and godl i k e and other than animal i s formed and reformed and bent back upon i t s e l f to discover the nature of Man we must f i n d our way back t o an understanding of how Man i s r e l a t e d to Nature J  Henri Bergson as well was preoccupied with the problem. • Indeed, the difference between humans and " a l l other l i v i n g species past and present" was one of the primary concerns of his philosophy. We s h a l l therefore not lose sight of the f a c t , in following one d i r e c t i o n and another of evolutionary chains that our main business i s to determine the r e l a t i o n s h i p of man to the animal , kingdom, and the place of the animal kingdom i t s e l f in the organized world as a whole.2 Brancusi, i t w i l l be demonstrated, did e x a c t l y t h i s , although the conclusions he reached were the inverse of Bergson's and more in keeping with L e v i - S t r a u s s , p a r t i c u l a r l y i n that Brancusi introduces man's godl i k e nature into the question.  Brancusi resolved the problem of the  r e l a t i o n s h i p between animals and humans with a s e r i e s of l o g i c a l transformations which have as t h e i r underlying structure a paradigm . which may g r a p h i c a l l y be represented as: gods  animals — humans The f i r s t h a n d most important, operator in t h i s transformation i s , once again, the semantically p r e c i s e , yet formally ambiguous Sculpture f o r the B l i n d .  As i t j o i n s the two opposing human series i t also  l i n k s the human and animal works with each other, although i t  itself  does not deal with the d i v i n e aspect. It was proposed in the previous chapter that the Sculpture f o r the B l i n d mediates between the oppositions of male and female and l i f e and i n e r t matter.  It accomplishes t h i s by being both sexes and  also egg and pebble simultaneously.  Occuring at the philosophical  point where opposites coalese, i t was i t s own f i r s t cause, i t s own point of o r i g i n .  This philosophic and semantic function must,  if  our proposal i s c o r r e c t , also serve to overcome or mediate between the oppositions of human and animals.  It must disguise t h e i r differences in  a statement of u n i f i e d d u a l i t i e s and o r i g i n s of species as well as of sexes; i t must t r u l y function in the structure of the oeuvre as the 'cosmic egg' as which i t has often been i n t u i t i v e l y  interpreted.  In order to comprehend t h i s f u n c t i o n , and the s i g n i f i c a n c e of the problem, one must turn again to Bergson.  It w i l l be r e c a l l e d  that Bergson spent much time explaining the processes of p a r a l l e l evolutionary development which led to the d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n animals and humans.  between  At the o r i g i n of these "evolutionary chains"  at the point in time at which l i f e f i r s t invested i n e r t m a t e r i a l , lay the common v i t a l impetus which l i n k s the various forms of  life.  It was only subsequently that the divergent species began to emerge. At the end of the previous chapter was outlined the philosophical paradigm for the Princess X-Sculpture for the Blind-Newborn sequence. This also demonstrates the p r i n c i p l e by which the animal and human are l i n k e d through a common point of o r i g i n . i n time to the i n i t i a l  Bergson worked backward  point of n o n - d i f f e r e n t i a t e d l i f e and continued  his argument against " f i n a l i t y "  by speaking of the search through past  generations in order to f i n d the f i r s t source of i n d i v i d u a t i o n in various l i f e forms.  122 Gradually we. s h a l l be c a r r i e d further and further back, up to the i n d i v i d u a l ' s remotest ancestors, we s h a l l f i n d him s o l i d a r y with each of them, s o l i d a r y with that l i t t l e mass of protoplasmic j e l l y which i s probably at the root of the generalized t r e e of l i f e . Being, to a c e r t a i n extent, one with t h i s common ancestor, he i s also s o l i d a r y with a l l that descends from the ancestor i n divergent d i r e c t i o n s . In t h i s sense each i n d i v i d u a l may be said to remain united, to the ..totality .of l i v i n g beings by i n v i s i b l e bonds. So i t i s of no use to t r y . to r e s t r i c t f i n a l i t y to the i n d i v i d u a l i t y of the l i v i n g being. If there i s f i n a l i t y in the world of l i f e , i t includes the whole of l i f e in a s i n g l e i n d i v i d u a l embrace.3 :  By taking the influence of Bergson's philosophical concepts into account, Brancusi's Sculpture f o r the B l i n d , can and must be i n t e r preted as i t s a l t e r n a t i v e t i t l e — B e g i n n i n q of the World—imp!ies, as the i n i t i a l  point where the v i t a l impetus met with matter and f i r s t  created n o n - d i f f e r e n t i a t e d l i f e that was capable of reproducing and perpetuating i t s e l f and. thus i n i t i a t i n g the process of the evolution of new, d i s t i n c t , and opposing forms.  It can thus be seen as  conceptually and formally l i n k i n g both human and animal s e r i e s by being t h e i r common point of o r i g i n .  Both male and female, i t i s also  both human and animal; i t i s the concrete equivalent of Bergson's 4 philosophic concept. Given then, that the Sculpture f o r the B l i n d i s semantically and p h i l o s o p h i c a l l y capable of j o i n i n g the human and animal s e r i e s , we can turn our attention to the f i r s t of the animal s c u l p t u r e s . these, the f i r s t three are b i r d images:  Of  The M a i a s t r a , 1910/1912,  the Penguins from 1912/1914, and the Leda, 1920.  The f a c t that these  f i r s t works are a l l avian cannot be a c c i d e n t a l .  The question appears:  Why has.Brancusi chosen b i r d images to e f f e c t the transformation from human to animal?  Is there any l i n k between birds and humans which  123 tends to disguise t h e i r d i f f e r e n c e s , make them ambiguous and thus a s s i s t in the t r a n s i t i o n from one opposing realm to the next? Levi-Strauss points out that b i r d s , of a l l animals, occupy a special place in t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p with human s o c i e t y .  He e x p l a i n s :  Birds . . . can be permitted to resemble men (in p r i m i t i v e thought) f o r the very reason that they are so d i f f e r e n t . They are feathered, winged, oviparous and they are also p h y s i c a l l y separated from human society by the element in which i t i s t h e i r , p r i v i l e g e to move. As a r e s u l t of t h i s f a c t , they form a community which i s independent of our own but, p r e c i s e l y .because of i t s independence, appears to us l i k e another s o c i e t y , homologous to that in which we l i v e ; birds love freedom; they b u i l d themselves homes in which they l i v e a family 1 ife and nurture t h e i r young; they often engage in s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s with other members of t h e i r s p e c i e s ; and they communicate with them by acoustic means r e c a l l i n g p a r t i c u l a t e d language. Consequently everything objective conspires to make us think of the b i r d world as a metaphorical human s o c i e t y : i s i t not a f t e r a l l l i t e r a l l y p a r a l l e l to i t on another l e v e l ? There are countless examples in mythology and f o l k l o r e to i n d i c a t e . t h e frequency of t h i s mode of representation.5 Given L e v i - S t r a u s s ' theories on birds and p r i m i t i v e  (mytho-  l o g i c a l ) thinking the importance of Bergson's philosophy to Brancusi's thinking and the analysis of the human s e r i e s in the previous chapters, the underlying structure of the animal works should be p r e d i c t a b l e . Having established the p r i n c i p l e of symmetrical development as-a paradigm of the human heads, the animals should c o n s i s t of two p a r a l l e l , yet opposing s e r i e s , joined at the top and bottom.  The two s e r i e s must  also be developed c h r o n o l o g i c a l l y , as well as l o g i c a l l y , although p a r a l l e l with rather than a f t e r the humans. , The f i r s t works in the two s e r i e s should be the Maiastra and the Penguins.  Both of these  should be formally and semantically related to the Sculpture for the B l i n d , and in each instance, the birds should be employed in a  124 manner which incorporates a d i r e c t transformation from human to animal. Generally the i n i t i a l  Consequently, A-| - m -  developments should Took l i k e t h i s :  should p a r a l l e l , H-j - M - H^.  As i t t r a n s p i r e s , however, the animal s e r i e s are not without problems in t h e i r development.  Whether t h i s i s a matter of short-  comings in the methodology or s h i f t s in Brancusi's thought w i l l be discussed 1ater. In order for the i n t e g r i t y of the semantic and philosophic infrastructure  to be maintained, a l l of i t s parts must be coherent  and even p r e d i c t a b l e . things.  The forms must in each case s i g n i f y the same  The r e l a t i o n s h i p s along the various axis must be e i t h e r  oppositional or p a r a l l e l .  The terms of the i n i t i a l  birds must  correspond to those of t h e i r respective counterparts in the human series.  For example, the Maiastra and Penguins must be based on  an underlying ovoid form which makes a reference to sexual reproduction. Furthermore, both the Newborn and Princess X are sexually ambiguous, i . e . both male and female.  A s i m i l a r conceptual and formal  joining  of sexual oppositions can be expected in the corresponding b i r d s .  125 Other l e v e l s are, however, more complex.  Insofar as the s e r i e s be-  ginning with the Maiastra and the Penguins leads to a series of animals, a mediating l i n k between humanity and the animal kingdom must .be present.  A double transformation must occur.  The f i r s t of the  animals must mediate between sexual opposites by being both male and female, and between opposites of species by being animal and human.  But Levi-Strauss has led us to expect the introduction of an  additional d i s t i n c t i o n and r e c o n c i l i a t i o n , that between the f i r s t two and the world of the gods.  Brancusi .has, in f a c t , o v e r l a i d his  system with an opposition between the sacred and the profane.  As s h a l l  be shown, he does t h i s in a manner s i m i l a r to that found in other mythological systems. The p a r a l l e l oppositions and transformations along s i n g l e axes must also be p r e c i s e . and the Maiastra.  Let us begin with that of H-j - H^, the Newborn  It must be demonstratable that no element of one  i s without a d i r e c t correspondence i'n the other.  As w e l l , the Mai-  a s t r a , as the f i r s t animal f i g u r e , and in correspondence with the Newborn, must be simultaneously male and female, and animal/human/ god.  It should, however, be s p e c i f i c a l l y the product of sexual  activity:  i . e . i t must contain a connotation of b i r t h .  It must  move, as does the Newborn, from darkness to l i g h t and from womb to world and from blindness to s i g h t . cry which s i g n i f i e s t h i s t r a n s i t i o n .  The Maiastra must also have a I f t h i s complex set i s not  present, then the r e l a t i o n s h i p between the two could at best be seen as f o r t u i t o u s , or based only on a common form and possibly r e l a t e d ,  but not n e c e s s a r i l y systematized, ideas.  If,  on the other hand,  they can be demonstrated, then the analysis f u l f i l l s  i t s precon-  d i t i o n s and can be termed v a l i d . It can e a s i l y , b e demonstrated that the Maiastra contains a god, animal and human transformation.  The Maiastra f u l f i l s  d i t i o n s on both the formal and mythological plane.  these con-  The form i s that  of a bird.,,But.as,Tucker points out, i t i s also t h a t . o f a human head 6 and neck.  The human/animal transformation also occurs on the  mythological plane.  Spear has documented in some d e t a i l the variants  of the Rumanian f o l k l o r e from which the Maiastra i s drawn. i t s e l f comes the designation for f a i r i e s and g e n i i .  The word  The b i r d  Pasarea Maiastra ( a n . a l t e r n a t i v e t i t l e ) i s thus mythological and magical, i t belongs to the sacred realm of the gods rather than the zoological, although l i k e Zeus, in the myth of Leda, i t i t s e l f in b i r d l i k e form.  manifests  But i t i s more than a sacred animal.  A  popular variant on the Maiastra s t o r y , published in 1872, indicates that-, the Maiastra was a princess transformed; into a magical b i r d as the r e s u l t of her incestuous love f o r her brother.^  In both a  formal and contextual sense, then, the Maiastra may be read as animal, god-like being, or human.  The mythological, sacred aspect  of the work e f f e c t s the transformation between the two realms.  The  Maiastra thus s e r v e s , in conjunction with the ambiguous Sculpture f o r the B l i n d , as a mediator between the opposing world of humans and animals.  127 This complex transformation i s , however, i n s u f f i c i e n t to complete the necessary requirements of the system.  in  itself  The Maiastra  must also be capable of being e i t h e r male or female, or at best sexually n o n - d i f f e r e n t i a t e d .  The foregoing; in conjunction with Ithe  Rumanian designation f o r M a i a s t r a , which i s feminine, would tend to indicate an e x c l u s i v e l y female i n t e r p r e t a t i o n and formal balance between the two sexes.  rather.than a conceptual  Spear has, however, demon-  strated t h a t the forms of the Maiastra may be broken down into male/ phal1ic shapes and female/egg forms in a manner which p a r a l l e l s that of Princess X. l o g i c a l aspects.  This sexual ambiguity i s also inherent in i t s mythoIn an important version of the myth, published as a  poem by G. Baronzi in 1909,. Pasarea M a i a s t r a , poema poporala, the magical b i r d is a transformed prince rather than a p r i n c e s s , male g rather than female.  Although t h i s poetic-mythological  interpretation  of the Maiastra as male appears unique, Spear postulates that played an important part in Brancusi's conception.  it  The poem appeared  j u s t p r i o r t a B r a n c u s i ' s f i r s t marble version and could'have served as one of the direct, i n s p i r a t i o n s for the c a r v i n g . on whether the t r a d i t i o n a l  Thus, depending  or the new myth i s f o l l o w e d , the image may  be interpreted as e i t h e r a transformed male or female i n the guise of a sacred bi r d . Having demonstrated;that the Maiastra i s , as Levi-Strauss leads us to expect, and as the system demands, male/female, and human/god/ animal simultaneously, we may now turn to the correspondences between the M a i a s t r a , and i t s counterpart, the Newborn.  128 The formal r e l a t i o n s h i p between the Maiastra and the Newborn indicates t h e i r p a r a l l e l conceptual b a s i s .  Both are based on a  continuous ovoid which has been given some minimal and s t y l i z e d surface a r t i c u l a t i o n , to create a d e f i n a t e , although ambiguous image. In t h i s case, the head and t a i l of a b i r d project from the top and bottom of the central o v o i d a l , egg shaped body.  It i s tempting to  i n t e r p r e t t h i s as a b i r d form hatching from the dark, enclosed i n t e r i o r of an egg.  The Maiastra and the Newborn could then be read as images  s i g n i f y i n g the emergence .into l i g h t from a dark womb/egg of a sexually d i f f e r e n t i a t e d progeny, i n one case human, in the other animal. such an i n t e r p r e t a t i o n  Although  i s inherent in the form, and w i t h i n keeping  of the l o g i c of the system, none of the published commentaries on the Maiastra have explored t h i s p a r t i c u l a r image.  As w i l l be shown,  however, the concepts have been reported as occurring in other aspects of the s c u l p t u r e , thereby confirming the a n a l y s i s .  This w i l l be  dealt with l a t e r . The Newborn, i t w i l l be r e a a l l e d , was engaged in u t t e r i n g a c r y . As Levi-Strauss has i n d i c a t e d , the presence of sound in mythological systems i s always of great i m p o r t a n c e . ^  It  i s thus necessary to  f i n d a p a r a l l e l feature in the M a i a s t r a .  This e x i s t s .  The open mouth  of the M a i a s t r a ' s outstretched head i s interpreted by Spear as " . . . s i n g i n g or announcing some message."^  At f i r s t , the  element of sound, unique to these two s c u l p t u r e s , appears to be in opposition.  The song of the mythological creature i s characterized  as sublimely beautiful rather than a s q u a l i d wail of agony.  On c l o s e r  129 examination, however, both c r i e s have a common s i g n i f i c a n c e , they both announce the f i r s t experience of l i g h t a f t e r a period of darkness. The equation of sound and l i g h t has already been established for the Newborn.  In the M a i a s t r a , i t  i s presented in the nature of the  b i r d i t s e l f , and in the s p e c i f i c place of i t s song in the mythological story.  The Maiastra i s associated with the sun, i t i s seen as a  source of l i g h t .  But the association between i t s cry and the f i r s t  experience of l i g h t a f t e r darkness i s more d i r e c t . Munteanian v e r s i o n , 'Peter and the Fox,  1  "In. the widespread  related by Maldarescu, the  king [who sends his sons, in search of the bird] i s b l i n d and only the 12 song of the magic b i r d can restore his s i g h t . " .  Spear continues,  " . . . careful consideration of the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of the magic b i r d reveals i t s unquestionable 1uminary nature.  I t i s a l i g h t giving 13  being, even in the metaphoric sense of restoring s i g h t to the b l i n d . " Thus, both the Newborn and the Maiastra involve a t r a n s i t i o n  from the  darkness, suggested by the form and t i t l e of Sculpture f o r the B l i n d , to the world of Tight.  It  i s in each case associated with the  presence of a c r y , one with i t s source in a transformation human, god and animal, one e x c l u s i v e l y human.  between  One i s temporal and  operates on the profane plane, one i s mythological and therefore outside of time.  This suggests that the r e l a t i o n s h i p between the  Newborn and the Maiastra i s both apposite and opposite.  The cry of  the human Newborn i s the unpleasant r e s u l t of an i n f a n t  confronting  i t s f i r s t experience of l i g h t ; conversely, the cry of the mythological b i r d , M a i a s t r a , i s the beautiful cause of an adult f i r s t experiencing light.  130 Maiastra nature animal beautiful adult • infant squalid human culture Newborn:.  dark r-—  :  1 ight  The p a r a l l e l s and correspondences between the two works a r e , however, not yet complete.  It has been noted that the Newborn i s  associated with a physical t r a n s i t i o n , a " d e l i v e r y " from an enclosed world of darkness, to the world of l i g h t .  It has also been'  postulated that the form of the Maiastra s i g n i f i e s a s i m i l a r t r a n s i t i o n , in that i t suggests a hatching b i r d , but the formal interpretation  i s i n s u f f i c i e n t without a mythological  This may be found in other variants of the myth.  counterpart.  "The Romanian.  M a i a s t r a , i n the widepsread version related by Isperescu, dwells in 14 the underworld." Further, Spear associates the Maiastra with the P a j u r a , a s o l a r eagle-Tike b i r d of Romanian f o l k l o r e which d e l i v e r s "the hero thrown into the underworld by his jealous brothers . . . 15 into s u n l i g h t . "  The two d e l i v e r i e s from darkness to l i g h t and from  underworldto t h i s world may be seen as a metaphorical equivalent of the d e l i v e r y of an i n f a n t . should also be mentioned.  In t h i s respect, o n e , l a s t equivalent  The Sculpture for the B l i n d i s associated  with death in the metaphorical sense of i t s s k u l l - l i k e shape which was suggested by Brancusi himself.  It thus takes part in the con-  t i n u a l cycle of l i f e and death and s u f f e r i n g and joy which make up  the human temporal! world. i n a timeless realm.  Mythological beings l i v e outside t h i s cycle  As the Newborn conquers death i n the temporal  sense, so the Maiastra must conquer i t in the mythological realm. Spear notes that in the Munteanian version narrated by Popescu, the song of the b i r d , in t h i s case the transformed p r i n c e s s , " . . . can even r e s u r r e c t the d e a d . " ^ The semantic p a r a l l e l s and oppositions between the units of the Newborn and the Maiastra are complete. no part i s meaningless.  Nothing i s a c c i d e n t a l ,  The l o g i c a l system maintains i t s  integrity.  The mediating element between the two i s the highly ambiguous Sculpture f o r the B l i n d .  It i s evident from t h i s analysis that  Brancusi systematically transformed a l l his concerns into t h i s unifying work.  I t i s both the source and termination of h i s s e r i e s ,  t h e i r o r i g i n and f i r s t cause and t h e i r r e s o l u t i o n . Before proceeding to an analysis of the s e r i e s of images which Brancusi developed from the M a i a s t r a , l e t us f i r s t examine i t s part in the t r a n s i t i o n from human to animal.  counter-  This p o s i t i o n (Ag in  the diagram on p.124) i s at once the most problematic,and the most rigorously complex of the animal works.  It i s also s i g n i f i c a n t in  that i t i l l u s t r a t e s an i d e o l o g i c a l s h i f t in Brancusi's sculpture from the s o c i a l idealism of the pre-war sculptures to the s p i r i t u a l idealism of the post-war work. Both the semantic and i d e o l o g i c a l problems appear when the p o s i t i o n i s occupied by B r a n c u s i ' s second a n i m a l / b i r d s c u l p t u r e : The Penguins.  Two versions of t h i s image e x i s t :  the f i r s t from  132 1912 contains a group of three b i r d s , the second, from a f t e r 1914, two.  The works stand outside the oeuvre in that they are the only  group sculptures in Brancusi's e n t i r e r e p e t o i r e .  This f a c t must be,  then, of great importance and' deserves to be examined f i r s t .  As  groups, the Penguins must s i g n i f y e i t h e r the s o c i a l or the f a m i l i a l . This i s indicated by the closeness and intimacy of the elements, which are well integrated,' and abstracted ovoidal forms that bear, however, T i t t l e resemblance to t h e i r namesakes. in another feature.  Their closeness i s confirmed  Geist notes, "On the l e f t side of Three Penguins  i s an ambiguous enveloping element, one of the few unexplained forms to be found in B r a n c u s i ' s s c u l p t u r e . " ^  Taken in the context of the  Penguins as a community or a f a m i l y , the function of t h i s form becomes quite c l e a r .  It draws the i n d i v i d u a l elements together much l i k e an  e n c i r c l i n g arm, thereby again s t r e s s i n g the concept of a u n i f i e d group. The question a r i s e s , then, can the groups of Penguins be interpreted as s i g n i f y i n g an i n t e n t i o n a l metaphor f o r human s o c i e t y , as t h e i r p o s i t i o n d i c t a t e s ; do the Penguins embody the necessary transformation between the opposing realms of animals and humans? Both the. subject and the forms indicate an a f f i r m a t i v e answer to ;  both questions.  G e i s t has stated on two occasions that the form  of the Penguins resembles that of humans.  He points out, "The Pen-  guins are huddled together, Tike people."  As w e l l , he notes t h a t ,  " . . . in B r a n c u s i ' s sculpture (of the Penguins), we see only heads, that i s , truncated figures—the only such among his animal s c u l p t u r e s ,  133 but the: usual mode for his human images,"  18  although i t w i l l be  r e c a l l e d that Tucker also saw i t occuring in the Maiastra.  An  examination of the subject confirms G e i s t ' s observations of the humanl i k e q u a l i t y of the forms.  Of a l l the b i r d f a m i l y , penguins bear the  c l o s e s t resemblance to people. less. later.  Penguins a r e , l i k e humans, f l i g h t -  Their movement in water as opposed to a i r w i l l be discussed Their d i s t i n c t i v e black and white feathering appears to mimic  human formal dress, the most s o c i a l i z e d and r i t u a l laden form of human a t t i r e . in groups.  In a d d i t i o n , penguins stand.upright and congregate  Thus, as a s p e c i e s , they are the most f i t t i n g metaphor  in the b i r d kingdom f o r human s o c i e t y , short of a d i r e c t mythological transformation.  They serve as operators in the t r a n s i t i o n for the  human s e r i e s to the p a r a l l e l b i r d s e r i e s .  They are images of b i r d  s o c i e t i e s and f a m i l i e s that mimic human s o c i e t i e s and f a m i l i e s .  As  Levi-Strauss s t a t e s , they resemble humans c l o s e l y , yet belong to a group that i s d i s t i n c t and separate from them. But given the point by point correspondence between the Newborn and the M a i a s t r a , should we not also seek a correspondingly precise r e l a t i o n s h i p between the Maiastra and the Penguins? Should we not expect the Penguins to also have an e x p l i c i t l y magical/mythological transformation between animals and humans that introduces the realm of the sacred?  Further i n v e s t i g a t i o n shows t h i s to e x i s t .  Geist has indicated that B r a n c u s i ' s Penguins probably o r i g i n a t e d in Anatole France's Penguin I s l a n d .  It has already been established  that Brancusi would have been f a m i l i a r with France through O t i l i a  \  133 A  Source:  Frontispiece i l l u s t r a t i o n by Frank C. Pape", Penguin Island by Anatole France, trans. A.W. Evans (New York: Blue Ribbon Books, Dodd, Mead & C o . , n . d . ) .  Source:  I l l u s t r a t i o n by Frank C. Pape", page 38, Penguin Island by Anatole France, trans. A.W. Evans (New York: Blue Ribbon Books, Dodd, Mead & C o . , n . d . ) .  134 de Cosmutza.  This book, published in 1908, is a s a t i r e on French  h i s t o r y in which a race of penguins i s magically transformed by God i n t o a race of humans a f t e r the bungling of a misdirected myopic saint raised the problem of t h e i r d i v i n i t y .  The transformations  from s o u l l e s s birds to beings with a divine nature i s described in the text and the  illustrations.  A f t e r an extensive debate on the consequences of the a c t i o n , God summons the archangel Raphael: "Go and f i n d . t h e holy Mael,". said he to him; "inform him of his mistake and t e l l him, armed with my. Name, to change these penguins into men." Consequently, Raphael informed Mael: . " . . . k n o w they e r r o r , b e l i e v i n g thou wert baptizing children of Adam thou has baptized b i r d s , and i t i s through thee that Penguins have entered i n t o the Church of God."  Mael . . . said to the b i r d s : "Be ye men!" Immediately the penguins were transformed. Their foreheads enlarged and t h e i r heads,grew round l i k e the dome of S t . Maria Rotunda in Rome. Their oval eyes opened more widely on the universe . . . t h e i r beaks were changed i n t o mouths, and from t h e i r mouths went f o r t h speech . . . , a r e s t l e s s soul dwelt within the breast of each of them. 20 However, there remained some traces of t h e i r f i r s t nature. The development of the book follows t h i s o r i g i n myth to describe the development of Penguin/human c i v i l i z a t i o n down to the present. Thus, the Penguins can be .said to incorporate a mythic, metaphoric and formal transformation which mediates between the world of animals, humans and even gods.  Like the M a i a s t r a , i t answers  135 the question of the d i a l e c t i c a l process by which humanity's view of i t s e l f as "human and godlike and other than animal i s formed and reformed and bent back on i t s e l f . " between nature and c u l t u r e . sufficient.  The element of the divine mediates  Yet. t h i s , while necessary; i s not  The Penguins must also be both male and female and imply  sexual a c t i v i t y in the same manner as Sculpture f o r the B l i n d and Princess X.. two b i r d s . time.  T h i s , they do.  The second Penguins contains an image of  It was not, however the only such image created at t h i s  It has been noted t h a t , by 1914, Epstein had created his Two  Doves, the e r o t i c image of copulating birds..:  It i s also known that  Epstein and Brancusi were in communication in 1913-1914, and that Epstein had spent time in B r a n c u s i ' s s t u d i o .  Thus, we may f a i r l y  i n t e r p r e t Brancusi's Two Penguins as another copulating couple, male and female, and thereby p a r a l l e l i n g Princess X. t a t i o n i s confirmed by the forms.  This i n t e r p r e -  O v o i d a l , with s i n g l e oval eyes and  a l l other d e t a i l e l i m i n a t e d , the Penguins appear more l i k e or j o i n i n g c e l l s than b i r d s .  B r a n c u s i ' s i n t e r e s t in t h i s image of  procreation has already, been documented.  The metaphor also embeds  the work in Bergson's philosophical concepts, as i t images he employs in i l l u s t r a t i n g d i f f e r e n t species and sexes.  splitting  i s one of the  the process of the evolution of  The image thus coherently relates the  Penguins to Sculpture for the B l i n d and to Princess X. Nevertheless, a small-degree of semantic imprecision can be noted in t h i s bird/human/sexual metaphor, and transformation.  The Penguins,  although male/female and human/animal/god, lack the perfect visual  136 pun of Princess X and the Maiastra which combine and unify aroused male forms with sensuous female forms into a s i n g l e , synthetic image.  In t h i s , the correspondence between the Penguins and t h e i r  counterparts i s not as exact as the system seems to demand.  This  then, i s t h e i r problematic aspect. If,  however, a concession i s made to a possible change in Bran-  c u s i ' s t h i n k i n g , then the imprecisions of the Penguins disappear. For the sake of argument, as t h i s p o i n t , l e t us allow the second waterb i r d image, that of Leda, to replace the Penguins.  The new grouping  would then look l i k e t h i s :  The Leda must have a l l the features ascribed to the Penguins: i . e . be male/female and animal/human/god. the Penguins do not:  It must also supply what  i t must be a precise v i s u a l male/female pun  r e l a t i n g to sexual a c t i v i t y , and thereby correspond p r e c i s e l y to the Princess X.  It must also express this using ovoidal forms.  These conditions are met, in p a r t , in the c l a s s i c a l myth  itself.  The story in which Zeus (god), transforms himself i n t o a swan (animal) to seduce Leda (a human) i s as well known now as i t was in 1920. The myth denoted by the t i t l e thus begins to e s t a b l i s h the mediating  l i n k between the human and animal world through the saored animal which i s h a l f nature, h a l f god.  This sequence of events, according  to L e v i - S t r a u s s , i s common to many mythologies.  He explores in some  d e t a i l , t h e equations between the polar oppositions of god : man, w i l d : tame and animal ': human in an extended discussion of the 21  Minotaur, and'the story of Europa and the Bull transformed).  (again Zeus  Just as the divine b u l l forms the l i n k in these equa-  t i o n s , so in Leda i t i s the swan that supplies the transforming between oppositions.  link  But while the image of Brancusi's Leda i s that  of the sacred swan', a problem occurs.  Given the c l a s s i c a l source,  the swan i s a god transformed, not a human, and i t i s a male image, not, l i k e Princess X, male and female simultaneously. The transformation both between the sexes and between man and animals i s thus not e x p l i c i t in the c l a s s i c a l myth i t s e l f . however, in the s c u l p t u r e , i f B r a n c u s i ' s personal  It  is,  interpretation  of the myth and his representation o f ' i t i s taken i n t o account. Brancusi, transposed the transformation between male god and animal to one between female human and animal;  He s a i d of the work, 22  "It  i s Leda, n o t , J u p i t e r , changing i n t o a swan."  Brancusi has  thus, as in the M a i a s t r a , d e l i b e r a t e l y inverted the sexual i d e n t i f i cation of the work so that the image of the sculpture as a represent a t i o n of a swan can be read as e i t h e r male or female depending on whether the c l a s s i c a l or B r a n c u s i ' s version of the myth i s followed. Simultaneously, the new myth allows f o r the metamorphosis between humanity and the animal realm. thus complete.  The necessary transformations are  138 These a r e , however, not the only p a r a l l e l s between Leda and Princess X.  Both r e f e r to the fusion of the opposite sexes in the  act of procreation.  As Geist points out, "ultimately Leda composes  an image fundamental to both Greek myth and Brancusi's own fancy: an image of f e r t i l i z a t i o n .  A reproduction of the piece in a Bucharest 24  journal of 1924 i s , indeed, labeled •" " F e c u n d i t y . ' "  Both Leda  and Princess X also are producers of f e r t i l e eggs, in the case of Leda t h i s i s l i t e r a l  in the myth.  Like Princess X, the image of  the swan refers d i r e c t l y not'only to female procreative powers, but to those of the male counterpart as w e l l .  This i s inherent both in  the image of Zeus and i n the image of the swan as i t was interpreted in French popular f o l k culture around the turn of the century. Levi-Strauss points out that the name associated with swans in France at t h i s time was "Godard," a name which " . . .  refers to a s i g n i f i c a n t  s o c i a l condition for i t was applied to husbands whose wives were 25 in l a b o u r . " Thus, the Leda i s at once male (Zeus), female (Leda), tame (swan/human), w i l d (swan/animal); t h i s image of sexual creation uses the element of the divine to mediate between culture and nature and the d u a l i t y of the sexes.  In both form and content, Leda  and Princess X are apposites, yet they are opposed in that one represents a b i r d , the other a human, one i s sacred, the other profane. They a r e , however, joined through the mediating l i n k of the Sculpture f o r the B l i n d .  Their •relationships are among the most precise and  rigorous in Brancusi's s c u l p t u r a l system, but only when Brancusi's  139 personal i n t e r p r e t a t i o n  and deliberate inversion of the image of the  Leda myth i s taken into account. .To. suppose that his statement was merely whimsical does, i n j u s t i c e both to the i n t e g r i t y of the system and to the depth and q u a l i t y of his  thought.  Thus, a l l the aspects of the Leda take on a very precise s i g n i f i cance when they are placed- in r e l a t i o n to the t o t a l context of Branc u s i ' s sculptural oeuvre.  Leda's complexity goes f a r beyond those  features noted by Jack Burnham in The.Structure of Modern A r t , although Burnham was correct in many of his observations.  In  particular,  he noted G e i s t ' s assertion of Bergson's i n f l u e n c e , the sculptures androgenous nature, "neither one sex nor the o t h e r , " that i t s "metalanguage i s the form of the myth i t s e l f , "  and t h a t , the "represen-  t a t i o n of the characters has.been distored and displaced to the point where mimetic i d e n t i f i c a t i o n the myth.  i s hot possible without reference to  Thus the empirical sign i s taken over by the Plane of 26  Connotation."  (Burnham's emphasis.)  Burnham was, however, i n -  correct in not r e a l i z i n g that the Leda gained t h i s s i g n i f i c a n c e from i t s r e l a t i o n s h i p to the other units in Brancusi's sculptural mythology. From the foregoing, i t would seem then, that Leda i s the ideal operator in the transformation from the human realm to that of animals, and d i r e c t l y p a r a l l e l s the M a i a s t r a , and Princess X.  Its  presence seems to be predicted by the shortcomings of the Penguins which i t appears to replace.  The questions a r i s e then, why does the  methdology not account for the Penguins elsewhere, and why did Brancusi.  140 not destroy the works, as he had other pieces?  In response to the  l a t t e r i t must be noted.that both Penguins l e f t his studio s h o r t l y a f t e r they were produced.. Unlike the Maiastra 'and many of hiisvother conceptions, he never again worked on t h i s theme.  On the other hand,  he did keep a version of the Leda i n his s t u d i o , although here again he only produced two copies..  It would appear then that Brancusi  explore the penguin theme/:image.but discarded i t . have been more i d e o l o g i c a l than semantic.  It  His reasons may  i s evident that the Leda  functions better within the system than the Penguins but there i s another e s s e n t i a l d i f f e r e n c e :  the Penguins are based on a concept  of s o c i a l idealism whereas the Leda i s not.  As has been pointed out  by G e i s t , France's book was.a c r i t i q u e of French society and p o l i t i c s , and a r e f l e c t i o n of his s o c i a l i s t sympathies.  So. t o o , i t seems,  was Brancusi's Three Penguins.. Geist speculates that Brancusi's work may even have i t s source i n "three j a i l e d labour leaders who had gone on a hunger' s t r i k e " in 1911, and whom France had p u b l i c a l l y 26a defended.  France and Brancusi had also contributed to the pre-  war s o c i a l i s t a r t i s t s '  commune, the Abbeye d e C r e t e i l .  Following the  war, however, a f t e r the collapse of the commune, and much of i n t e r national s o c i a l i s t movement, Brancusi moved more towards i d e a l s expressed in animal images^  spiritual  Indeed, b y l 9 2 4 , he seems to  have been deeply influenced by the writings of M i l a r e p a , a Tibetan mystic s a i n t .  As w i l l be seen, his animal series terminates in an  image of s p i r i t u a l i t y  rather than p o l i t i c a l  reality.  .  141 This t r a n s i t i o n  from s o c i a l to s p i r i t u a l  i s contained, in p a r t ,  in the replacement of the Penguins by the Leda. involves more than j u s t a change in i d e a l s . s i g n i f i e s the t r a n s i t i o n  But t h i s  transposition  On a broader level  from a progressive concept of society to a  s t a t i c invocation of the s p i r i t u a l , from c u l t u r a l evolution to conservatism, and ultimately of  it  cultural  from a diachronic to a synchronic concept  reality. The reasons f o r t h i s change in d i r e c t i o n can be found i n the  synchronic nature of Brancusi's developing s c u l p t u r a l s t r u c t u r e . was observed in Chapter T . t h a t timeless mythological structures  It collapse  i n the face of d i a l e c t i c , or diachronic h i s t o r i c concepts which embody cultural evolution.  H i s t o r y , based on s o c i a l change over time, and  mythological structures which e x i s t only i n s t a t i c , cultures are i n n i m i c a l .  ahistoric  We.have, however, observed Brancusi's s t r a t e -  gies for subverting art h i s t o r y by turning i t back on i t s e l f , using timeless images l i k e . t h e K i s s .  But s o c i a l i s t i d e a l s are also  predicated on evolving s o c i e t i e s , they are h i s t o r i c a l and d i a l e c t i c rather.than mythological and synchronic. Nonetheless,.up to the Penguins, Brancusi had been able to reconcile or at l e a s t obscure this  contradiction. Shortly a f t e r 1914, however, the contradiction between the two  became too great f o r the system to support. the contradictions  Rather than d i s g u i s i n g  in Brancusi's ideas between c u l t u r a l  and s o c i a l progress, the Penguins begin to expose i t . t r u t h becomes e x p l i c i t rather than hidden.  conservatism The uncomfortable  The s i t u a t i o n was exacerbated by i t s temporal context: beginning of World War I.  the  The war was an. h i s t o r i c event of mythic  proportions that produced.monumental c u l t u r a l a l t e r a t i o n s . although he withdrew, could not ignore i t .  Brancusi,  As we s h a l l see in the  next chapter, he did attempt to mythologize the war, and turn  it  into a timeless event by making i t c y c l i c and synchronic rather than progressive and evolutionary.  The conservatism which i s embedded in  the timeless c l a s s i c a l Leda but contradicted by.the war-time Penguins emerges more completely when Brancusi s 1914-1915 sculptures are 1  examined c o l l e c t i v e l y . But before an examination of t h i s period can be undertaken, i t  is  necessary to re-examine the Maiastra since i t was conceived at a time when B r a n c u s i ' s s o c i a l i s t i d e a l s of brotherhood were s t i l l It should, then, contain an element of these i d e a l s .  intact.  By 1913, a  bronze version (now in. the Tate' Gallery) was mounted on a p i l l a r in Edward Steichen's garden at Voulangis.  Placed cn t h i s elongated  p e d e s t a l , the Steichen Maiastra sends i t s cry skyward.  Geist refers 27  to the image as a " . .. . h e r a l d i c presence, noble and g e n t l e . " Brancusi said of i t ,  " J ' a i voulu que l a Maiastra releve l a t e t e , 28  sans exprimer par ce mouvement l a f i e r t e , 1'orgueil ou l e d e f i . " The s e t t i n g of the Steichen Maiastra and these descriptions may indicate .another possible source for B r a n c u s i ' s conception. In September of 1911, a r e a l i s t i c a l l y portrayed crowing cock, the work of Jean Gasper, was mounted on a sixteen meter i n Jemmapes, Belgium.  obelisque  A "coq G a u l o i s , " the symbol of France's  143 g l o r y , the monument was erected to commemorate the f i r s t French m i l i t a r y v i c t o r y on foreign s o i l following the Revolution.  L'.Ilus-  t r a t i o n , a popular French journal much l i k e present-day L i f e Magazine, c a r r i e d both i l l u s t r a t i o n s and a d e s c r i p t i o n of the monument. . . . l a s i g n i f i c a t i o n de ce.tbeau monument de Jemmapes, qui dresse son coq symbolique sur l a plaine fameuse ou les troupes franchises triompherent, en 1792, des forces coalisees de I ' A u t r i c h e et de l a Prusse.29 Another item elaborated on i t s s i g n i f i c a n c e . II t r a d u i t par sa s i m p l i c i t e meme cette v e r i t e generale que de .la France de 1792 data le commencement d'une profonde evolution' sp.iritue.11e et m a t e r i e l ! e ' d o n t l a Belgique benef i c i a l a premiere . . .30 The French monument expressed the exact reverse of Brancusi's conception:  " . . . la f i e r t e , l ' o r g u e i l ,  . . . le def.i" are i t s  inherent  expressive q u a l i t i e s . If Geist is correct in his analysis of Brancusi's s o c i a l i s t sympathies and i f the Maiastra was in turn i n s p i r e d by a war monument, then once again Brancusi has inverted his o r i g i n a l source of i n s p i r a tion in both form and content.  The Maiastra i s a personal image,  in a modern,abstract idiom, of l i f e and l o v e , based, however, on timeless Rumanian f o l k l o r e ; conversely, the Jemmapes cock i s a r e a l i s t i c a l l y portrayed monument to war and death, based on French heraldry.  Through  t h i s inversion the Maiastra could be interpreted as a monument to 31  brotherhood and s o c i a l i s t va'lues. When the war became a r e a l i t y , however, the Maiastra underwent a change once again r e f l e c t i n g B r a n c u s i ' s s h i f t from the s o c i a l and progressive to the s p i r i t u a l and conservative which p a r a l l e l s the from the Penguins to the Leda.  shift  144  Footnotes:  Chapter V  1.  Leach, pp. 38-39.  2.  Bergson, C r e a t i v e , ' p-, 111.  3.  I b i d . , pp. 45-46.  4.  Although such ideas may seem foreign in the present context of a r t , they enjoyed some popularity in the P a r i s i a n avant garde at the time B r a n c u s i ' s Beginning of the World was created. B l a i s e Cendrars, f o r example, wrote a d e s c r i p t i o n ' o f a "cosmic sponge" which c l o s e l y p a r a l l e l s the meaning of Sculpture for The B l i n d .  1  Cette eponge est Eponge des Tenebres, Touffe des Langues, Orgue des O r i g i n e s . Comme un cerveau dans un crane, e l l e se moule dans la premiere forme. E l l e est 1 ' e c h a n t i l l o n primaire l e plus simple,' l e plus elemental re d'une f a m i l l e d'etres a rebours, i n q u a l i f i a b l e s et inadmissibles, aux Antipodes de l ' U n i t e . B l a i s e Cendrars, L'Eubage aux. antipodes de 1'unite ( P a r i s , Au Sans P a r e i l , 1926), but w r i t t e n between May and December, 1917. Brancusi knew Cendrars i n t i m a t e l y . In f a c t , the Sculpture for the B l i n d ' s a l t e r n a t i v e t i t l e , . Beginning of the World, was used as the t i t l e of a b a l l e t with scenario by Cendrars, music by Milhaud, and costumes by.Leger, which w a s . f i r s t performed i n 1923, Brancusi was reportedly in the crowd on opening n i g h t . 5.  L e v i - S t r a u s s , The.Savage Mind, p. 204.  6.  Tucker, p. 50.  7.  Spear, p. 4.  8.  I b i d . , pp. 11-12.  9.  I b i d . , pp. 4 , n . 8 .  10.  Leach, p. 86.  11.  Spear, p. 11.  12.  I b i d . , p. 4.  145 13.  I b i d . , p. 5.  14.  I b i d . , p. 7.  .15.  Ibid.  16.  I b i d . , p. 4.  17.  G e i s t , 1969, p. 46.  18.  G e i s t , 1975, p. 19.  19.  G e i s t , 1969, p. 61.  20. Anatole France, Penguin 1909), pp. 38-40..  Island (New York:'  Blue Ribbon Books,  21.  Leach, pp. 73-74.  22.  G e i s t , 1969, p. 101. The complete quote i s worth c i t i n g in t h i s instance. Maivina Hoffman reports of her v i s i t to Brancusi's studio in 1938 his statements, concerning Leda. "'You remember the story in mythology, when a god was changed into a swan and Leda f e l l in love with t h i s b i r d ? ' " . . . " W e l l , " he whispered, "I never believed i t ! " . . . . "You s e e , " said B r a n c u s i , "I never could; imagine a male being turned into a swan, impossible, but a woman, y e s , q u i t e e a s i l y . Can you recognize her in t h i s b i r d ? " .., . . . "She i s kneeling, bent backwards. Can-you see now? These high l i g h t s were her breasts, her head . . . but they were transformed into these b i r d forms. As they turn they are forever transforming into new l i f e , new rhythm . . . do you feel i t ? " Sculpture Inside and Out (New York:  Bonanza Books, 1939).  23.  Geist also recognized Leda's transformative imaginery, although he saw only part of i t : "Leda i s a metaphoric creature: womanbird." G e i s t , 1975, p. 18.  24.  G e i s t , 1967, p. 77.  25.  L g v i - S t r a u s s , The Savage Mind, pp. 200-201.  26.  Burnham, The S t r u c t u r e , p. 93.  26a. G e i s t , 1969, p. 61. 27.  G e i s t , 1969, p. 50.  146 28.  Spear, p. 13.  29.  L'Illustration,  30.  I b i d . , 23 September 1911, p. 228.  31.  The p o s s i b i l i t y t h a t . B r a n c u s i ' s Maiastra may have been i n s p i r e d by the Jemmapes monument or a s i m i l a r image deserves serious consideration. Certain problems a r i s e , however, e s p e c i a l l y conconcerning their: respective dates. The f i r s t marble version of the Maiastra has been given an e a r l i e s t possible date of 1910, the year before the'Jemmapes coq. This date i s , although generally accepted, c o n j e c t u r a l . It i s based on statements Brancusi made more than a decade and a half a f t e r the event. ( G e i s t l 9 6 8 , p. 178). A photograph of the work i n s c r i b e d 1910-1912, "in Brancusi's hand," (Ibid) does not confirm 1910 as the e a r l i e r date, but only indicates that i t was again added well a f t e r the photograph; was taken and again expresses some uncertainty about i t . It seems:possible then,, that Brancusi was thinking of the idea as early as 1910 but not u n t i l 1912 did he execute it. It i s possible t h a t in t h i s time Brancusi:learned of the Jemmapes commission and the form i t would take. Furthermore, i t was not the o n l y 'coq g a u l o i s ' of t h i s form to be mounted on a p i l l a r as a war monument—others predate i t . An e a r l i e r example was discovered in A f r i c a in 1912. ( L ' I l l u s t r a t i o n , 13 A p r i l , 1912, p. 310.) Both Brancusi's comments on the Maiastra and the f a c t that he was s h o r t l y to begin work on h i s own 'coq q u a l o i s ' also i n d i c a t e a possible connection. The l a t t e r was, in f a c t , intended as a.:national monument although i t had i t s source in a personal metaphor.. Brancusi was to say, "I am the Cock" . ( G e i s t , : ,. 1968, p. 137)  P a r i s , 30 September 1911, p. 252.  F i n a l l y , both the image and the idea may, once a g a i n , be a d i r e c t inversion of a work by Rodin: The Cal1 to Arms. This monument to the Franco-Prussian war of 1870/71 , shows a winged female figure r i s i n g over the body of a s l a i n s o l d i e r . The female i s , Tike the M a i a s t r a , half-human, half, animal. But instead of' invoking! peace, she "hisses the s p i r i t of revenge and anger." She i s the "Genius of War, who r i s e s l i k e a Phoenix behind the dying warrior" (de Caso and Sanders., p. 199). As s h a l l be seen, the Phoenix plays a r o l e in the development of the Maistra theme during the war years.  CHAPTER VI  Although the tensions between the s o c i a l and the s p i r i t u a l , the progressive and the conservative and the diachronic and the synchronic are as e x p l i c i t in the Maiastra series as in the Penguin/ Leda t r a n s p o s i t i o n , and although these problems also occur during the war y e a r s , the two series are distinguished by t h e i r approach to the problem and i t s r e s o l u t i o n .  Brancusi handled i t with more  finesse in the sequence of sculptures following the M a i a s t r a ; the uncomfortable i d e o l o g i c a l contradiction was more s u c c e s s f u l l y overcome and d i s g u i s e d , but r e c o n c i l i a t i o n was not the answer.  Committed at a n '  e a r l i e r stage to the M a i a i s t r a , Brancusi did not abandon i t ,  but  transformed i t by minute and barely d i s t i n g u i s h a b l e graduations into i t s opposite.  As the series moves from one polar opposition to the  other, Brancusi abandoned a l l s o c i a l i s t concerns. Although Spear missed t h i s t r a n s i t i o n she has categorized and explored many other pertinent developments of the series J  It  is  unique in that i t contains more i n d i v i d u a l works than any of the others; the c l a s s i f i c a t i o n s , however, are the most l i m i t e d .  Indeed,  the ideas l i n k i n g the various birds proceed with a directness that borders on the single-minded.  This indicates that Brancusi was work-  ing towards a s i n g l e , preconceived idea which was inherent in his prewar work and was, as we s h a l l see, also grounded in Bergson. these concerns he added the problem of overcoming the  But to  contradiction  148 between h i s t o r y and concomitant c u l t u r a l change on the one hand and the denial of time and c u l t u r a l s t a s i s on the other.  As was indicated  by the Leda/Penguins problem, even in times of h i s t o r i c upheaval, mythology triumphs over h i s t o r y i n Brancusi's universe, but not without sacrifice. The i n i t i a l  works in the Maiastra series are d i r e c t  variants  of the M a i a s t r a , and as such maintain, a l b e i t in a diminished b a s i s , the balance between Brancusi's s o c i a l i s t sympathies and mythological proclivities.  In 1915, at the beginning of the war, a Maiastra of a  s l i g h t l y different  image appeared.  Brancusi streamlined the upper  portion of the body by j o i n i n g the head, neck and body in a s i n g l e attenuated form.  He enhanced the v e r t i c a l dynamic by straightening  the neck so that the open mouth at the top issued i t s cry d i r e c t l y to the sky.  In keeping with the upward t h r u s t , the t a i l  proportionately  lengthened, although i t s t i l l  configuration of the i n i t i a l  conception.  section was  retained the angular  By c o n t r a s t , Brancusi  added a s t y l i z e d claw motif to the bottom of the sculpture.  The image, '  in i t s smooth contours and aerodynamic form, i s both modern machine and timeless mythic b i r d . Just as i t s hovers between the mechanical, the z o o l o g i c a l , and the mythological, the new Maiastra also hovers between f l i g h t and rest.  Its upper section aspires to the heavens, i t s lower part  f i r m l y grips the ground.  The concept i s thus also one of tension between  the earthbound and the a i r b o r n .  For the Maiastra t o leave the earthly  realm of humans and animals, i t would have to a l t e r i t s meaning, i t s  form and i t s designation more completely.  Nonetheless, t h i s version  establishes the d i r e c t i o n of subsequent formal and semantic transformations.  It i n d i c a t e s , above a l l , that the concept of motion, here  expressed as f l i g h t , i s to be of fundamental, importance to each of the animal images.  But the tension'expressed goes beyond mere d i r e c t i o n  and type of motion, as both, have a broader importance in the problem of the diachronic versus the synchronic.  This becomes evident when  the s i g n i f i c a n c e of f l i g h t , as i t i s expressed in the aero-dynamic form of the M a i a s t r a , i s explored.  As with the Steichen M a i a s t r a ' s  p i l l a r , the use of f l i g h t i s not without contemporary s o c i a l p a r a l l e l s and possible wartime a s s o c i a t i o n s . In the winter of 1912-1913, "L'Apotheose de 1 ' a v i a t i o n was held in the Grand P a l a i s , also the s i t e of the o f f i c i a l salons.  francaise" sculptural  The purpose of t h i s show was to e x h i b i t the l a t e s t develop-  ments i n the evolution of mechnical f l i g h t in France. appears, attended t h i s e x h i b i t i o n .  Brancusi, i t  Christopher Green reports that  "Leger t o l d Dora V a l l i e r of a v i s i t to the Salon d ' A v i a t i o n  'before  2 the 1914 war' with Marcel Duchamp and Constanin B r a n c u s i . "  The  v i s i t had a deep e f f e c t on Leger, and, i t seems, on Brancusi.  The  response of the p a i n t e r , however, i s in d i r e c t contrast to that of the sculptor.  In 1923, Leger r e c a l l e d , " ' b e a u t i f u l , hard metal o b j e c t s ,  complete and f u n c t i o n a l , treated in pure l o c a l c o l o u r s , the steel playing against vermillions and blue.with i n f i n i t e v a r i e t y of 3 effect,'"  he remembered also "geometric power."  Although a p a i n t e r ' s  impressions, what i s important i s that Leger began t r a n s l a t i n g  "the  real drama of machines experienced at f i r s t hand;" he "presented on canvas . .... that intense sensation of . . . metalic s o l i d i t y and of power in motion that he experienced in the machinery of modern l i f e . "  4  For these reasons Green c a l l s him a " r e a l i s t , " despite his fragmented, s t y l i z e d forms. Leger developed these ideas in a s e r i e s of works conceived during the war when he was at the front l i n e s .  Leger's  declaration of r e a l i s t intentions does not lead him to demand the depiction of modern mechanistic s u b j e c t s , but i t does lead him to demand that the raw material of modern l i f e should be related to every p i c t o r i a l statement in a very tangible way.5 6 This became p a r t i c u l a r l y evident in his choice of subject matter.  He  was to say in 1954, that his war time experiences led him " ' d e l i b e r a t e l y to extract his subject from the t i m e s . ' Brancusi in the 1915 M a i a s t r a , also exhibited an i n t e r e s t  in  aerodynamic forms drawn from modern i n d u s t r i a l s o c i e t y , but several fundamental differences spearate him from Leger.  Brancusi combines  these mechanical forms with a subject drawn not from contemporary e x i s t e n c e , but from Romanian f o l k l o r e . mechanical f l i g h t .  In so doing he mythologized  The diachronic evolution of technological  innovations was reconciled with a synchronic, s t a t i c , mythology by dressing one in the guise of the other. overcome, or d i s g u i s e d .  The opposition was  As with art h i s t o r y , however, Brancusi  subverted technological h i s t o r y , by expressing i t i n . a t i m e l e s s , mythic image.  Brancusi remained a mythologizer, rather than a r e a l i s t ,  despite the outward modernity of his forms.  151 S i g n i f i c a n t differences between Leger and Brancusi can also be observed in t h e i r respective approaches to art h i s t o r i c a l  traditions.  By 1920, Leger was under the influence of the " c a l l to o r d e r , " which developed among the a r t i s t s around Leonce Rosenburg's 1 E f f o r t Moderne 1  g a l l e r y , which included some of the a r t i s t s involved in the Abbeye. This " c a l l to order" demanded a recognition of the evolving of French art through, a return to c l a s s i c a l values.  traditions  In such works  as the h i e r a t i c "Le Mechani.ci.en" of 1920, Leger was "openly asserting his b e l i e f in constant p i c t o r i a l past as in the present . . . . g sense of t r a d i t i o n . "  p r i n c i p l e s to be found as much in the He adds to his new c l a s s i c i s m a strong  He s t i l l , however, retained modern subject  matter drawn from his experience at the Salon d ' A v i a t i o n .  He also  used modern mechanically inspired forms to assert his contemporary place i n time.  His references to the:antique are subordinated to  both of these elements. It seems that some overlap between Leger's " c a l l to order" and Brancusi's Maiastra occurs. turns into an o p p o s i t i o n .  On c l o s e r examination, however, this B r a n c u s i , as has been shown, denies or  subverts the concept of an evolving French t r a d i t i o n by emphasizing t i m e l e s s , Romanian (or c l a s s i c a l ) mythological subjects, and, as much as p o s s i b l e , t i m e l e s s , a l b e i t , mechanically i n s p i r e d , forms.  In  c o n t r a d i c t i o n to Leger, Brancusi's modernism i s always subordinated to the eternal rather than vice versa. s h a l l be examined presently.  The s i g n i f i c a n c e of t h i s  On the other hand, Brancusi's mechanical Maiastra would s t i l l , i t seems, allow him to harbour his s o c i a l i s t sympathies, although  its  connection with, i t s i n s p i r a t i o n i s becoming more tenuous, j u s t as i s i t s connection with the e a r t h .  As the war progressed, both connections  were severed, as the tens ion between dachronic s o c i a l evolution and the synchronic c u l t u r a l conservatism of mythologies became too great for his mythology to disguise s u c c e s s f u l l y . i'Spear points to the o r i g i n s of t h i s problem by i n d i c a t i n g another possible source of i n s p i r a t i o n for the 1915 Maiastras, and l a t e r works in the s e r i e s . She l i n k s technological evolution with s o c i a l upheaval. In World War I for the f i r s t time the b a t t l e f i e l d was extended into the a i r . The Zepplin warship and airplane raids must have been an impressive experience for generations which had grown up in the nineteenth century.9 Obviously the o r i g i n a l Maiastra was i n e f f e c t i v e as a symbol and c a l l to brotherhood and peace.  But the war, and f l i g h t , produced more  t e l l i n g blows against B r a n c u s i ' s mythological s t r u c t u r e .  The war,  as has been s a i d , produced dramatic s o c i a l and technical changes of which the Zepplin was only one example.  Now, j u s t as he had mythologized  technological e v o l u t i o n , Brancusi was obliged to mythologize s o c i a l change, and to a l t e r the war from a diachronic h i s t o r i c event to a synchronic mythological s t r u c t u r e . small  This posed a problem of no  proportions. We have already examined part of B r a n c u s i . ' s ' s o l u t i o n .  The  Princess X, the Sculpture f o r the Blind and the Newborn were a l l created during 1915-1916.  These works express a cycle of b i r t h and  death, of creation and d e s t r u c t i o n .  They arrest time by turning  it  back on i t s e l f into a repeated cycle that i s both i t s own end and i t s own beginning.  It would be expected, then, that Brancusi would use a  p a r a l l e l paradigm for the b i r t h and death of c u l t u r e . With t h i s in mind, one may follow Spear's suggestion and see the l a t e r Maiastra as the incarnation of another mythological s o l a r b i r d related both to the cycle and i t s h i s t o r i c context—the Phoenix.  Spear  in f a c t indicates that a possible source for Brancusi's Maiastra may have been D i a g h i l e v ' s Russian B a l l e t ' s performance of S t r a v i n s k y ' s Fire Bird in Paris in 1 9 1 0 .  10  She also notes that "The Phoenix,  always r e v i v i n g himself, i s the symbol of e t e r n i t y . " ^ shared Spear's impression.  Others have  The Maiastra has been endowed with Phoenix-  l i k e q u a l i t i e s by various poets, who found in i t a source of i n s p i r a 12 tion.  The Phoenix would be a timely symbol.  Its c y c l i c s e l f -  destruction by f i r e in the pyre composed of i t s own nest i s a mythol o g i c a l metaphor for the destruction of western c i v i l i z a t i o n in the • conflagration of the war.  In" the myth, the heat generated by the  flames causes an egg l a i d by the Phoenix before i t s immolation to hatch, and a new incarnation of the Phoenix a r i s e s .  Sculpture f o r  the B l i n d could be the Phoenix's as well as Leda's and Princess X's egg.  In conjunction with the Newborn and Princess X, i t would thereby  acquire an a d d i t i o n a l dimension of meaning as a metaphor for the renewal and creation of culture and c i v i l i z a t i o n , as well as for the renewal and creation of animal and human l i f e . and culture [ i n i t i a t e d ,  A new cycle of  life  i t w i l l be r e c a l l e d with the Prometheus) would  thus begin again following the war.  The idea of f l i g h t introduced  154 in the 1915 Maiastra could be .seen as the new Phoenix leaving the ashes of i t s predecessor's nest. The concept.of c y c l i c regeneration may also have a source in another work by Stravinsky.  In May, 1913, S t r a v i n s k y ' s Le Sacre  du Printemps, performed by the B a l l e t Russe, opened in P a r i s .  Accordr  ing to Green, i t s impact "on the P a r i a s i a n avant-garde-was profound . . . and of signficance to a l l the a r t s .  S t r a v i n s k y ' s theme was not  modern l i f e , i t was the c y c l i c a l energy of a l l l i f e as a continual process of regeneration—the theme so deeply explored by the Abbaye poets 13 and a l l followers of Bergsonian philosophy."  Brancusi may well have  responded p o s i t i v e l y a second time to Stavinsky's theme,  particularly  since i t was based on S l a v i c mythology. In t h i s context, the Newborn, Sculpture for the B l i n d , Princess X, Maiastra (as phoenix) grouping:is both timely and t i m e l e s s .  Although  strongly related to Bergson's concept of evolution and d u r a t i o n , the group i s , nevertheless, opposed to i t .  As the Maiastra uses mythological  subjects and structures to subvert mechanical e v o l u t i o n , s o t h e group uses the same means to turn s o c i a l and c u l t u r a l h i s t o r y back on i t s e l f into an endless and repeated c y c l e , with no beginning, no end, and • no progression.  Repeated mythological cycles,which are synchronic,  run contrary to diachronic evolutionary  continuums.  But although Brancusi s u c c e s s f u l l y mythologized h i s t o r i c a l and s o c i a l evolution as expressed in the war, he was o b l i g e d , at t h i s p o i n t , to abandon h i s . s o c i a l i s t i d e a l s .  These are based on the per-  ception of h i s t o r y as progressive and society as a changing, evolving  155 continuum.  They, l i k e Bergson's concepts, also run contrary to repeated  mythological cycles and concepts of time and s o c i e t y .  As t h i s  opposition became e x p l i c i t in the face of the war, Brancusi was obliged to deny s o c i a l e v o l u t i o n , and opted, of n e c e s s i t y , for s o c i a l conservatism.  S o c i a l i s m , h i s t o r y and time perished in the flames  of the Phoenix. This conservatism corresponds p r e c i s e l y to L e v i - S t r a u s s ' analysis of the r o l e and function of time and h i s t o r y in mythological Levi-Strauss c a l l s myths, which he compares to music i n the  thought. introduction 14  of The Raw and the Cooked, "machines for the suppression of time." That i s to say, myth, l i k e Brancusi's sculptural system, i s synchronic and c y c l i c rather than d i a c h r o n i c , d i a l e c t i c or evolutionary.  Both  unfold over time, yet in the f i n a l a n a l y s i s , they r e s u l t in the suppression of the temporal by the t i m e l e s s .  This paradoxical  s i t u a t i o n i s somewhat complex, but deserves some d i s c u s s i o n . An extensive q u o t a t i o n from Levi-Strauss w i l l c l a r i f y i s components. . . . music and myth share (the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c ) of both being languages which., in t h e i r d i f f e r e n t ways, transcend a r t i c u l a t e expression, while at the same t i m e — l i k e a r t i c u l a t e speech, but u n l i k e . p a i n t i n g — r e q u i r i n g a temporal dimension in which to unfold. But t h i s r e l a t i o n to time i s of a rather special nature: i t i s as i f music and mythology needed time only in order to deny i t . Both, indeed, are instruments f o r the o b l i t e r a t i o n of time. Below the l e v e l of sounds and rhythms, music acts upon a p r i m i t i v e t e r r a i n , which i s the psychological time of the l i s t e n e r ; t h i s time i s i r r e v e r s i b l e and therefore irredeemably d i a c h r o n i c , yet music transmutes the segment devoted to l i s t e n i n g to i t into a synchronic t o t a l i t y , enclosed within i t s e l f . . . . It follows that by l i s t e n i n g to music, and while we are l i s t e n i n g to i t , we enter into a kind of immortality. . . . I t can now be seen how music resembles myth, since the l a t t e r two overcomes the contradiction between h i s t o r i c a l , enacted time and a permanent constant J 5  156 Brancusi's work establishes a s i m i l a r r e l a t i o n s h i p and performs a function s i m i l a r to L e v i - S t r a u s s ' model.  The correspondence between  L e v i - S t r a u s s ' musical metaphor and Brancusi's structure may well explain  Brancusi's propensity for employing musical sources as  well as his close association with composers l i k e Satie and Stravinsky.  Levi-Strauss  1  concept may a l s o , however, be applied to  i n d i v i d u a l sculptures w i t h i n the s t r u c t u r e .  Sculpture for the B l i n d ,  f o r example, compresses both the o r i g i n of l i f e and i t s  continual  recreation into a s i n g l e object, that i s perceivable in a single moment.  It i s a "permanent constant" par e x c e l l e n c e .  The same  w i l l be shown to occur with the developing Maiastra series which seems to state the contradiction between the h i s t o r i c a l l y and the timeless or mythological  by a s e r i e s of gradual  in which the former i s suppressed by the l a t t e r . true of the e n t i r e oeuvre.  conditioned transformations  Indeed, i t  Brancusi himself recognized t h i s  is relation-  ship in his work in a discussion of motion, which i s , i t w i l l be r e c a l l e d related in Bergson to the idea of duration, and hence to the problem of time. Qu'est-ce qui deft-nit notre epoque? La V i t e s s e . Les hommes s'attaquent a Tespace e t a u temps, en accelerant sans cesse les moyens de les t r a v e r s e r . La v i t e s s e n ' e s t que l a mesure du temps que T o n met a traverser une distance. Et parfois i l s ' a g i t de l a distance qui nous separe de l a mort. L' oeuvre d ' a r t exprime justement ce qui n'est pas soumis a l a mort. Mais e l l e d o i t le f a i r e dans une forme qui s o i t un temoignage de Tepoque dans l a q u e l l e v i t T a r t i s t e J 6 This statement is worth examining in some.detail.  His approach  to motion places i t f i r m l y as a diachronic element; as i t progresses in time, i t progresses in speed.  Brancusi, however, arrested t h i s  157 evolutionary q u a l i t y and mythologized motion and aerodynamic speed in the l a t e r M a i a s t r a .  But speed as equated with technological pro-  gress, motion and time also leads to the ultimate unpleasant t r u t h : death and war.  Brancusi, s u c c e s s f u l l y subverted a l l of these with  the Sculpture for the B l i n d , and the continual renewal of the Maiastra as Phoenix.  With them.we "enter into a kind of immortality."  Finally,  he dealt with the evolution of forms, which are also d i a c h r o n i c . Here, however, he says forms are secondary, i t i s only that which goes beyond death, and hence speed, time and e v o l u t i o n , that i s in . a r t .  important  In B r a n c u s i ' s view, as in Burnham's, art h i s t o r y i s  mythology. It i s here that Brancusi separates himself from the other a r t i s t s of the avantgarde in the post war p e r i o d , p a r t i c u l a r l y those, l i k e L i p c h i t z and Leger, who were under the influence of the " c a l l to order."  These a r t i s t s . a l s o sought out what they considered the  eternal laws of a r t , yet they viewed them as the continuum.of a t r a d i t i o n or an evolution through h i s t o r y .  Brancusi, conversely,  c o n t i n u a l l y subverted t r a d i t i o n s : (in the evolutionary sense) through both his mythological subject matter and his timeless technique. The Maiastra in i t s various versions i s m u l t i - l a y e r e d , and complex, yet i t s themes are c o n s i s t e n t . stave o f f ,  With i t Brancusi t r i e d to  and f a i l i n g t h a t , to mythologize the war.  With i t he  created a timeless image "from the debris of h i s t o r i c events."  In  so doing he had to face the contradictions in his works in order to disguise them.  His system would not support b o t h : s o c i a l evolution  158 and s o c i a l conservatism.  The former was abandoned.  Having sub-  verted, h i s t o r y , and produced a s t a t i c , c y c l i c , n o n - d i a l e c t i c image, Brancusi turned, a f t e r 1918, from s o c i a l idealism to idealism.  spiritual  This s h i f t , away from r e a l i t y and the mechanical, and t o -  wards the eternal and the s p i r i t u a l dominates the rest of his animal images. The underlying tension between the s o c i o - h i s t o r i c and s o c i a l i s m and the transcendental and eternal and s p i r i t u a l was resolved i n favour of the l a t t e r as the M a i a s t r a , or b i r d , s e r i e s progressed. Bird,;of 1918 points in t h i s d i r e c t i o n .  The Yellow  It contains s u b t l e , but impor-  tant transformations of the forms found in the 1915 Maiastra. cusi increased the v e r t i c a l emphasis by f u r t h e r straightening  Branthe  back, streamlining the contours and creating a more continuous surface.  He enhanced the upward thrust by a s s i m i l a t i n g the angular  forms of the M a i a s t r a ' s t a i l  section into a smooth, spindle-shaped  body which b u l g e s . s l i g h t l y at the breast and tapers at e i t h e r end. The fellow Bird rests on a dangerously narrow f o o t i n g .  The claws  along with most other b i o l o g i c a l references have been eliminated. The mouth, which no longer seems to s i n g , has now been reduced to l i t t l e more than an indentation i n t e r r u p t i n g torso/neck/head.  the upward flow of the  Although the e n t i r e body i s composed of a s i n g l e ,  compressed and continuous form, the t i t l e prevents i t from being seen as a f i n a l stage of g e n e r a l i z a t i o n or a b s t r a c t i o n . An a n a l y s i s of the forms and t i t l e demonstrates the  transitional  s t a t e , or transformative operations, of the Yellow Bird in the s e r i e s . The t i t l e , Yellow B i r d , stands in opposition to the Maiastra in that  159 i t belongs to the profane realm rather than the.sacred or mythological. It w i l l be r e c a l l e d that a s i m i l a r .opposition, also obscured by close formal, s i m i l a r i t i e s , . characterized the r e l a t i o n s h i p s between Prometheus and George, and the Danai des and Mile Pogany.  This p a r a l l e l  development indicates that to some extent, the human series and those of the animals may be isomorphic, despite the differences of t h e i r concerns.  On the other hand, i t may be argued that while the humans  have proper names, the Yellow B i r d can at best be part of a species. On close examination, however, the difference i s a c t u a l l y a p a r a l l e l . While i n d i v i d u a l humans have proper names, i n d i v i d u a l animals, (unless tame or part human, such as Leda and Maiastra) do not.  Thus, for  animals, the exact species becomes, l i k e human proper names, the f i n e s t possible c l a s s i f i c a t i o n .  It w i l l  also be r e c a l l e d that  following t h i s extreme of c l a s s i f i c a t i o n , the human series increased in abstraction and g e n e r a l i z a t i o n . follows a s i m i l a r structure w i l l  To what extent the b i r d series  be seen s h o r t l y .  Motion i s , however, not incompatible with s p i r i t u a l i t y .  Opposi-  tions between methods of propulsion and media through which motion occur are the p r i n c i p l e preoccupations of both the animal and b i r d s e r i e s , and i t i s here that we f i n d the most t e l l i n g statement of the s h i f t i n B r a n c u s i ' s p o l i t i c a l sympathies. The aspect of motion, however, constitutes an opposition between the Maiastra and the Yellow B i r d .  The M a i a s t r a , in a l l i t s  i s l i k e the humans and Leda, earthbound.  forms,  Nonetheless, the potential  f o r l i g h t and free movement through the a i r was expressed in i t s  160 later versions.  The Yellow B i r d r e a l i z e d t h i s p o t e n t i a l .  As Spear  points out, an impression of "the idea of f l i g h t , of the ' a e r i a l , ' the unbounded by laws of g r a v i t y " i s created by " i t s  elongation  and i t s extremely diminished lower.end [which] show Brancusi's e f f o r t s to detach the work from the.base and from the ground,, to the form and push i t u p w a r d s . "  163  On the other hand, as has been  noted, the Yellow B i r d operates as t r a n s i t i o n —it freed.from the e a r t h l y ; r e a l m .  lighten  i s thus not  totally  The Yellow B i r d mediates between the  earthbound and the freedom of f l i g h t , between m a t e r i a l i t y and i t s d i s s o l u t i o n , and between p o l i t i c a l r e a l i t y and s p i r i t u a l i t y .  Yet  t h i s mediation i s no longer mechanical, nor does i t seem to involve any hint of the underlying s o c i a l protest which grounded the Maiastra in i t s h i s t o r i c matrix.-  As B r a n c u s i ' s works leave the e a r t h , they  also abandon the human s i t u a t i o n . "Another s i g n i f i c a n t difference also separates the two conceptions. There i s no reference to sexual d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n  or a c t i v i t y in the  Yellow B i r d as there had been in the Maiastra;, and even more so in the Leda;  This c h a r a c t e r i s t i c holds true for a l l of the remainder  of the animal works yet to be explored.  It seems,  • ' speaking in  advance, that Brancusi d e l i b e r a t e l y deleted s e x u a l i t y from his post war c r e a t i o n s . it  Its conspicuous absence seems p a r t i c u l a r l y odd when ;  i s considered that motion, e s p e c i a l l y mechanical motion from which  the Maiastra draws i n s p i r a t i o n , was often used as a metaphor for sexual a c t i v i t y in the pre-war and war time work of Marcel Duchamp, both friends of Brancusi.  Francis Picabia and  Furthermore, a l l aspects  161 of human s e x u a l i t y were the primary focus of the s u r r e a l i s t s in the post war period.  They used i t to both point out and free themselves  from s o c i a l repression.  In his asexual animals, however, Brancusi  distinguished himself from, t h i s section of the avant-garde and his pre-war work.  Here a g a i n , he seems to overlap somewhat with Leger and  consequently, the " c a l l t o order."  Green notes that Leger's figure  paintings of the e a r l y 1920 s are also completely asexual. 1  Green  s t a t e s , " . . . t h e mechanical c l a s s i c nude remained for him essent i a l l y the v e h i c l e of . . . a purely asexual power held in check by an exact, modern, sense of s t r u c t u r e . "  This " . . . c l a s s i c a l idea of  order w a s ' i n e v i t a b l y associated with the machine and the manufactured o b j e c t , since these created the f e e l i n g for order special to the time."'''  7  As we s h a l l see however, Brancusi did not hold s e x u a l i t y  in check through the modern mass produced machine, but rather through the eternal s p i r i t .  His a l l i a n c e with Leger and the " c a l l to order"  was, once a g a i n , only i l l u s o r y . . Brancusi's denial of the mechanical, the material and the h i s t o r i c a l , and his quest for the absolute, the eternal and the s p i r i t u a l expressed through the metaphor of f l i g h t reached i t s f i n a l state in the Birds in Space.  F i r s t appearing in 1922 (or 1921), these images  were c o n t i n u a l l y refined by Brancusi. u n t i l the early 1940's.  The Bi rds  in Space take the trend towards v e r t i c a l i t y and abstraction found in the Yellow B i r d to i t s f u r t h e s t possible extreme.  The basic con-  ception consists in each case of an u p r i g h t , attenuated, e l l i p t i c a l shape.  An angular t r u n c a t i o n . a t the upper end i s the r e s u l t of the  162 further s i m p l i f i c a t i o n of the mouth to a f l a t o v a l . set on a s m a l l , f l a r e d base.  The whole i s  In p r o f i l e , a s t r a i g h t spinal ridge  contrasts with a gently arching breast.  The anatomical designations  a r e , however,; a r b i t r a r y as nothing of the shape, except i t s precedents, contains any b i o l o g i c a l reference to a b i r d .  The drive towards  abstraction and g e n e r a l i z a t i o n continued as Brancusi refined the formal configurations in the following decades.  Step by step he  increased the height, and i n v e r s e l y narrowed the g i r t h .  The footing  was integrated into the sculpture as a whole by modifying the f i r s t t r i a n g u l a r shape into one that gently curved upwards. The Birds in Space deny a l l the inherent q u a l i t i e s of marble, except i t s a b i l i t y to take a p o l i s h .  D i f f i c u l t i e s in adapting the  form to the material resulted in delays in i t s production. f i r s t known photograph of t h i s . i d e a dates from 1922. extant v e r s i o n , from the following year. appearance as 1921.)  (The  The f i r s t  Jianou dates i t s  first  Several versions have broken at the narrow  juncture of the footing and the body. in f a c t , composed of.two joined pieces.  The e a r l y v e r s i o n s , were, To s t a b i l i z e and strengthen  the form, Brancusi d r i l l e d a hole about two-thirds of the length of the p i e c e , and inserted a brass rod. The denial of m a t e r i a l i t y and the abstract representation of f l i g h t and space, have resulted in a. generally held of the work as the expression of s p i r i t u a l i t y . designation confirms t h i s observation.  interpretation  Its Romanian  Spear points out the t i t l e  "Pasarea:vazduhului (Bird of the Ether) . . . implies that the b i r d ,  163 freed from i t s earthly bounds, already belongs to a d i f f e r e n t w o r l d , 18 to a higher and Tighter atmosphere."" Geist has issued a s i m i l a r set of statements.  " B i r d in Space,  in i t s l a t e r examples, releases a euphoria of e l e v a t i o n .  Its shaping  u l t i m a t e l y answers the needs not of a poetry of the a v i a n , but of an imagination of f l i g h t , f l i g h t as ascent, as e f f o r t l e s s  rising, 19  as freedom from g r a v i t y , as transcendence of the earthly human." Although G e i s t ' s l a t e r observations added certain secondary characteri s t i c s , he preserved.his o r i g i n a l ' perception " B r a n c u s i ' s image of dream f l i g h t , r i s i n g with a grace and ease t h a t leave behind i t s 20 own heavy matter." "It makes an image of s p i r i t u a l f l i g h t , at once the nocturnal and euphoric f l i g h t of e r o t i c dream and the f l i g h t of 21 the s o u l . i n i t s urge to transcendence." While the s p i r i t u a l  aspect of the Birds i s important,  cannot be taken as a complete  it  interpretation.  The use of motion as a means of overcoming or c o n t r o l l i n g  the  l i m i t a t i o n s of material e x i s t e n c e , here embodied in Brancusi's triumph over the l i m i t a t i o n s of marble, combined with an evolutionary process i n v o l v i n g the invention of ever newer forms directed by a spiritual  presence has already been observed in B r a n c u s i ' s e a r l i e s t  keyworks—the K i s s , the Sleeper and the Muse.  They are a l l  directly 2;  r e l a t e d to Bergson s philosophy of creative evolution and elan v i t a l e . Indeed, the minute graduations of change which characterize the e n t i r e series are also strongly related to Bergson's concept of duration. Each work, i t  is t r u e , was created and must be perceived separately  164 in time.  Yet when seen as a whole, they c o l l e c t i v e l y present an  almost cinematic series which draws them together into an unbounded continuum.  As c l o s e l y as s t a b l e - s c u l p t u r e can, then, they approximate  the continuous process of an e v o l u t i o n , directed towards the f i n a l freedom of the  spirit.  Taken as such, they also confirm B r a n c u s i ' s continued adherence to another of Bergson's concepts, that of i n t u i t i o n .  According to  the philosopher, only i n t u i t i o n can perceive t h i s continuous evolutionary p r o c e s s — i t i s beyond the powers of reason. :  Reason, to the  contrary, breaks things down into i n d i v i d u a l , i s o l a t e d movements and e n t i t i e s .  "The i n t e l l e c t i s not made to think evolution . . .  the continuity of change that i s pure m o b i l i t y  . . . .the  intellect  represents becoming as a s e r i e s of s t a t e s , each of which i s homogeneous 22a with i t s e l f and consequently does not change."  B r a n c u s i ' s use  of i n t u i t i o n i s emphasized by his statement that "the ideal of the r e a l i z a t i o n of t h i s object [The Birds in Space! would be an enlarge23 ment to f i l l  the vault of the s k y . "  The concept underlying  this  statement emphasizes the ideal of the continuous over the discontinuous, and hence i n t u i t i o n over reason. The conjunction of i n t u i t i o n with s p i r i t u a l i t y  and the concept  of the continuous in Brancusi leads us to seek a precise correspondence in Bergson. " . . .  Indeed, Bergson states that we recognize the  unity of s p i r i t u a l l i f e . . . only when we place ourselves 23a  in i n t u i t i o n in order to go from i n t u i t i o n to i n t e l l e c t . "  But  Bergson goes f u r t h e r ; he, l i k e Brancusi, places the material body in  165 opposition to the  spirit:  . . . a philosophy of i n t u i t i o n w i l l be a negation of s c i e n c e , w i l l be..sooner.'.'or'later swept away by s c i e n c e , i f i t does not resolve to see the l i f e of the body j u s t where i t r e a l l y i s , on the road that leads to the l i f e of the s p i r i t . But i t w i l l then no.longer have to do with d e f i n i t e l i v i n g beings. L i f e as a whole, from the i n i t i a l impulsion that thrust i t into the world, w i l l appear as a wave which r i s e s , and which i s opposed by the descending movement of matter.23b As a material expression of the immaterial, that i s the s p i r i t u a l , Brancusi's Birds in Space are as paradoxical as the Kiss and Sculpture 1  f o r the B l i n d .  Indeed, the Birds in Space bridge the gap between  m a t e r i a l i t y and s p i r i t u a l i t y  by showing how one can be transformed  into the other, j u s t as a discontinuous f i n i t e object (a sculpture) can be conceived as continuous and i n f i n i t e — i . e . d u r a t i o n , evolution and i t can " f i l l the s k y . " assimilated the s p i r i t u a l  i t can both express  Thus Brancusi has  into the material and vice versa.  As  Levi-Strauss says, " L ' e s p r i t aussi est une chose, l e fonctionnement de cette chose nous i n s t r u i t sur l a nature des choses:  merrie l a  r e f l e c t i o n pure se resume en une i n t e r i o r i z a t i o n du cosmos.  Sous 23c  une forme symbolique, e l l e i l l u s t r e l a structure de T ' e n - d e h o r s . " Brancusi's continued adherence to Bergson's value of  intuition  and s p i r i t u a l i t y over reason and science separated him further however from other members of the avant garde of the post-war period.  This  was the case with those, l i k e Leger and L i p c h i t z , who were under the influence of the " c a l l to order," as well as the dadaists and surrealists.  The former were, by 1920, using mathematical propositions  and r a t i o n a l structures to create an art based on reason. points out:  As Green  166 . . . between 1917 and 1920 Leonce Rosenburg, Severini and Paul . Dermee had stood together f o r the reinstatement of reason as the only instrument by which to fashion an aesthetic and therefore a s t y l e . Reason gave i n t u i t i o n a d i r e c t i o n , and i t s most uncompromising product was science.24 The d a d a i s t s , on the other' hand, rejected reason wholesale, although i n t u i t i o n was not t h e i r aim.  The s u r r e a l i s t s also rejected  reason, but g l o r i f i e d i n t u i t i o n only to the extent that i t could be confused with Freud's concept of the subconscious. Furthermore, the series of Birds in Space  also separates  Brancusi from Leger's adherence t o ; t h e machine aesthetic of mass prod u c t i o n , as expressed in h i s paintings of the e a r l y ' 1 9 2 0 ' s .  Despite  t h e i r close s i m i l a r i t i e s of t h e i r evolving forms, none of B r a n c u s i ' s Birds in Space could have been made by mass production. Brancusi looked back on h i s s e r i e s of b i r d s :  "'In  In 1936  the l a s t B i r d s ,  the differences between them hardly appear in photographs.  Each,  ;  however, i s a new i n s p i r a t i o n , independent of the preceding one. I could show your f r i e n d t h e i r subtle differences on some p l a s t e r 25 casts.'"  Each one, in Brancusi.'s eyes, c a r r i e d with i t the idea of  the absolutely new.  Thus they carry the Maiastra's negation of tech-  n o l o g i c a l development to an .extreme,of d e n i a l .  They are not mass  produced, r e p e t i t i v e and mechanical;, but i n d i v i d u a l , unique and hand c r a f t e d .  Their i n t e n t i o n i s not to be contemporary, but time-  less, eternal.  But while t h e i r subtle differences subvert the idea  of mass production while simultaneously seeming to express i t , same minute d i s t i n c t i o n s make i t ,  these  as B r a n c u s i ' s statement i n d i c a t e s ,  almost impossible f o r the r a t i o n a l mind to perceive the  distinctions  167 between them.  The changes a r e , as has been s a i d , more of a continuous  flow than an abrupt.and discontinuous series of states homogeneous with themselves. One cannot say, however, that B r a n c u s i ' s s e r i e s , or his oeuvre as a whole, i s a programmatic s c u l p t u r a l i l l u s t r a t i o n of Bergson's philosophy, despite the f a c t that he remained f a i t h f u l to i t s basic precepts and premises i n t o the twenties and l a t e r when most others were abandoning them.  S i g n i f i c a n t differences also separate the two.  For example, in Bergson's philosophy animals and humans, are arranged i n separate, p a r a l l e l and h i e r a t i c evolutionary orders with humans at the apex.  The two divergent evolutionary paths were joined only  once, at the o r i g i n a l , point at which the v i t a l  impetus entered matter.  Much o f . t h i s overlaps with Brancusi s system.  Animals and humans  1  are joined at t h e i r point of o r i g i n , the Beginning of the World/ Sculpture f o r the B l i n d .  Yet as in many mythological systems, the  two species are interchangeable through magical transformations, as embodied in the M a i a s t r a , the Penguins and Leda.  Furthermore,  Bergson considered humanity to be the zenith of the evolutionary process. Radical t h e r e f o r e , a l s o , i s the differences 'between animal consciousness, even the most i n t e l l i g e n t , and human consciousness. For consciousness corresponds exactly to the l i v i n g beings power of choice: . . . consciousness i s synonymous with invention and freedom. Now, in the animal, invention i s never anything but a v a r i a t i o n on the theme of routine. . . . With man, consciousness breaks the chain. In man, and in man alone, i t sets i t s e l f f r e e . The whole h i s t o r y of l i f e u n t i l man has been that of the e f f o r t of consciousness to r a i s e matter and of, the more or l e s s complete overwhelming of consciousness by the matter which has f a l l e n back on i t . The enterprise was p a r a d o x i c a l . . . . It was to create with  168 matter, which is necessity i t s e l f , an instrument of freedom, to make a machine which should triumph over mechanism, and to use the determination of nature to pass through the meshes of the net which t h i s very determinism had spread.25a With the Birds in F l i g h t , Brancusi' has inverted Bergson by using f l y i n g birds as a metaphor.for the free motion of the l i b e r a t e d from confines of. matter over consciousness.  spirit,  In f a c t ,  flight  would appear to be a more appropriate metaphor for freedom from the struggle of elan v i t a l e over material e x i s t e n c e .  Technological  f l i g h t , seen in the f i r s t M a i a s t r a , only follows in i m i t a t i o n of that of b i r d s . The equation and transformation of animals and humans i s conversely in keeping with mythological systems in general.  Brancusi  may thus have been modifying aspects of Bergson's philosophy that were incompatable with mythology. But above a l l , in placing a b i r d , or rather the objective r e presentation of the subjective idea of b i r d as s p i r i t at the apex of his c r e a t i o n , Brancusi again disavowed the diachronic elements introduced in the Maiastra at the beginning of the s e r i e s .  He  repudiated technological development, as represented by mechanical f l i g h t , and h i s t o r y , through his t i m e l e s s , mythic image of the f l i g h t of birds and the s p i r i t . Timeless i s once more the operative word here.  As i s the  case with L e v i - S t r a u s s ' metaphor of music, B r a n c u s i ' s Bi rds in Space, which developed over time and must be seen over time ( e s p e c i a l l y now that they are scattered) use time only to deny i t .  Lacking a  c l a s s i c a l or Romanian mythological s u b j e c t , they deny time through  168 A  - 1927  169 the c o n t i n u i t y of t h e i r evolving forms.  Like the i n t u i t i v e perception  of Bergsonian e v o l u t i o n , which would occur, i t would seem,in a s i n g l e instance, these birds can be held by. the mind in a s i n g l e instant.  They are irredemibly synchronic despite the diachronic  nature of t h e i r production and the perception of t h e i r material expression. Herein l i e s the f i n a l underlying reason f o r his s h i f t to the spiritual.  For his birds to get o f f the ground Brancusi had to  j e t t i s o n , in G e i s t ' s words, "the earthly human," i . e . B r a n c u s i ' s s o c i a l i s t ideas and sexual content.  Faced with the dilemma of  choosing between an eternal and unchanging mythology and a progressive s o c i a l consciousness during World War I Brancusi opted for the former.  He was therefore obliged to move to a " d i f f e r e n t w o r l d ,  to a higher and l i g h t e r atmosphere;" the s p i r i t u a l was his only alternative.  In so doing, he created a f i n a l work which was the  precise opposite of his f i r s t important piece:  the K i s s .  The Kiss emphasizes the nature of the material from which i s composed.  The Birds in Space deny i t .  and thus about cycles of l i f e and death.  it  The Kiss i s about sexuality!; The Birds in Space are about  the s p i r i t u a l , and the eternal and absolute.  The Kiss i n i t i a t e s  cycle of material e x i s t e n c e , the Birds in Space terminate i t .  the  The  Kiss i s based on s o c i a l i d e a l i s m , the Birds on s p i r i t u a l i d e a l i s m . Thus, the two works form the central oppositional axis around which a l l of B r a n c u s i s works .rotate. 1  The Birds in Space stand not only at  end of the B i r d s e r i e s , but also at the end of the system as a whole.  170 They represent the f u r t h e s t possible extension of the ideas inherent in the o r i g i n a l works and in Bergson's philosophy which could be expressed in sculptural form. As was the case with Bergson, the whole of Brancusi's s c u l p t u r a l philosophy was constructed around an inherent dualism between the material (body) and the s p i r i t u a l realm. implied by the point of o r i g i n .  Thus the termination was  Edmund Leach makes t h i s point by  extending.Levi-Stauss' musical metaphor:  "the l a s t movement of a  symphony i s presupposed by i t s beginning j u s t as the end of a myth i s 26 already implicit-Where i t began."  The whole, seen in r e t r o s p e c t ,  as returning to i t s point of o r i g i n with another timeless statement, i s beginning to form a "synchronic t o t a l i t y , enclosed within itself."  171  Footnotes:  Chapter VI  1.  Spear.  2.  Christopher Green,.Leger and gives the date of t h i s v i s i t a' Salon d ' A v i a t i o n was found c i t e his source, Green seems  3.  Cited in Green, p. 84.  4.  I b i d . , p., 85.  5.  I b i d . , p. 93.  6.  I b i d . , p. 96.  7.  I b i d . , p. 120.  8.  Ibid.  9.  Spear, p. 37.  10.  I b i d . , pp. 9-10.  11.  I b i d . , p. 6.  12.  A poem e n t i t l e d "Pasarea M a i a s t r a , " published in 1925 and r e p r i n t e d in Spear contains such references. Spear, pp. 118-119.  13.  Green, p. 81.  14.  See Leach, p. 115.  15.  L e v i - S t a u s s , The Raw and the Cooked, pp. 15-16.  16'.*  Cited in Spear, p. 37.  16a. ' I b i d . , p. 14. 17.  Green, p. 249.  18.  Spear, p. 15.  19.  G e i s t , 1968, p. 129.  the Avant-Garde, p. 84. Geist as 1920, but, as no report of in that y e a r , and as he does not more c o r r e c t . G e i s t , 1975, p. 116.  172 20.  G e i s t , 1969, p.. 115.  21.  I b i d . , p. 133.  22.  See e s p e c i a l l y , Bergson, C r e a t i v e , pp. 252-253.  22a.  I b i d . , p. 171.  23.  Cited in G e i s t , 1965, p. 115.  23a.  Bergson, op. c i t . ,  23b.  I b i d . , pp. 283-284.  pp. 281-282.  2.3c. L e v i - S t r a u s s , La Pense Sauvage, c i t e d in Marc Liphnsky, p. 238. 24.  Green, p. 203.;  25.  I b i d . , p. U 5 .  25a.  Bergson, op. c i t . ,  26.  Leach, p. 115.  p. 278.  173  CHAPTER VII  The fourth and f i n a l s e r i e s in B r a n c u s i ' s stone works completes the symmetrical arrangements discovered in B r a n c u s i ' s synchronic system thus f a r .  This s e r i e s , Tike the Birds which i t p a r a l l e l s ,  has been observed by Spear, although she did not i n v e s t i g a t e development, s i g n i f i c a n c e or h i s t o r i c a l s e t t i n g .  its  In opposition to  the B i r d s , t h i s s e r i e s i s composed, with the exception of the mediating Leda, of non-bird forms.  The two s e r i e s were developed during the  same p e r i o d , that i s from the end of World War I to the early 1940's. They a r e , l i k e the two human s e r i e s , both l o g i c a l l y and c h r o n o l o g i c a l l y parallel. The bird and animal s e r i e s form a coordinated group when seen as a t o t a l i t y .  They share a common point of o r i g i n — S c u l p t u r e f o r  the Blind—and a common termination^—the Birds in Space.  When these  two linked series are j o i n t e d to the human series through the mediating element of the Sculpture f o r the B l i n d , a symmetrical arrangement r e s u l t s , in. which both larger groups also stand in a p a r a l l e l and an oppositional r e l a t i o n s h i p .  When t h i s f i n a l configuration i s  i n v e s t i g a t e d , the broader underlying ideas and categories which unify B r a n c u s i ' s sculptural universe f i n a l l y become c l e a r .  To para-  phrase B r a n c u s i , the whole i s simultaneously simple, yet complex. A d e t a i l e d examination of the components of the animal series and a.discussion of the general context of the animal images in the  174 sculpture of the f i r s t decades of t h i s century a r e , however, e s s e n t i a l to understand the place of Brancusi's animal images in his oeuvre as a whole. Brancusi's use of animals as subject m a t t e r . f o r sculpture was not unique.  In f a c t , small scale animal works which f i t  into  apartment environments were popular with both bourgeois c o l l e c t o r s and a r t i s t s since the decline in state commissions f o r monumental public works during the l a t e T800's.  These academic pieces became i n c r e a s i n g l y  popular in the f i r s t three decades of t h i s century, with a s u f f i c i e n t demand to support a small group of a r t i s t s who exhibited r e g u l a r l y at the Salon d'Automne in the Grand P a l a i s . Two f a c t o r s , however, i n d i c a t e that Brancusi was not simply responding to the .exigencies of the marketplace. l i e s in the forms he employed.  The f i r s t of these  A comparison between a piece such  as Francois Pompon's Coq and the bronze work of a s i m i l a r name by Brancusi i l l u s t r a t e s the difference between the two a r t i s t s ' concerns.  1  Although Pompon was, Tike B r a n c u s i , formerly an a s s i s t a n t  to Rodin, and reportedly carved "en f a i l l e d i r e c t e , " t h e i r respective conceptions bear l i t t l e resemblance *  Pompon's Coq i s decorative,  and borders on being merely a r e a l i s t i c f i g u r i n e of a popular subject with n a t i o n a l i s t i c connotations, an oversized b i b e l o t , very close in form to Gasper's Cog Gautois.  B r a n c u s i ' s Coq i s ,  by c o n t r a s t , challenging and innovative in a manner that bespeaks of his s e l f - c o n s c i o u s place in avant-garde developments. in Bergson's terminology, and hence an advance in a r t i s t i c  A new form evolution,  175 Brancusi's Cog i s related to i t s o s t e n s i b l e subject only through i t s t i t l e and the expressive power of i t s nearly abstract forms. As a.consequence, i t had a very small market appeal.  Brancusi,  had, in f a c t , abandoned his f a c i l e a b i l i t y to produce p l e a s i n g , r e a l i s t i c and r e a d i l y saleable forms e a r l y in his career. to e x p l o i t t h i s t a l e n t - a f t e r  His refusal  1907, at a time when avant garde sculpture  had l i t t l e market at a l l , indicates that the source of his animal imagery, unlike that of Pompon's, l i e s elsewhere than in the nexus of supply and demand.  Furthermore, unlike other sculptors such as  the p r o l i f i c Bugatti who created whole menageries, Brancusi created only a l i m i t e d number of animal works, and sold only a portion of these, even a f t e r the market for his work increased. One must not assume, however, that animal images were unknown in avant garde sculpture around.the time of B r a n c u s i ' s f i r s t use of them, or that the avant garde, or Brancusi for that matter, were completely divorced from the necessity of s e l l i n g t h e i r work.  Duchamp-  V i l l o n ' s four animal r e l i e f panels depicting c a t s , dogs, parrots, and doves, shown at the Salon d'Automne in 1913 are d i r e c t evidence that even members of the most advanced c i r c l e s could and did create pleasing decorative, work.  Nor should we overlook his r e a l i s t i c  Cog r e l i e f panel of 1916, which was used as an ornament f o r a theatre set up f o r the troops at the f r o n t and hence n e c e s s a r i l y represent a t i o n a l in nature.  At the same time, animal sculpture occupied a  s i g n i f i c a n t place in the subject matter of l e s s decorative and more experimental work by the avant garde, i n c l u d i n g Duchamp V i l l o n .  176 His Horse of 1914 comes immediately to mind, as. does Gaudier Brzeska's Stags and Birds Erect of the same year.  Brancusi ,was then, working  w i t h i n a convention and employing a vocabulary which had already been e s t a b l i s h e d . But despite t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p <to other animal  sculptures  of the p e r i o d , both academic.and avant garde, Brancusi's s e r i e s i s of a d i f f e r e n t nature. as in t h e i r forms.  This difference Ties as much in t h e i r  content  In the f i n a l analysis B r a n c u s i ' s choice of animal  subjects consisted of a l i m i t e d but i n t e r r e l a t e d r e p e t o i r e .  They must  be seen i n t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p to each other to be f u l l y understood. Although diverse in form, they had a common- and given t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p to, the B i r d series^-even a predictable.preoccupation. Nonetheless, t h i s s e r i e s i s the most problematic in Brancusi's oeuvre:  the problematic nature is f i r s t apparent in the  of i t s o r i g i n s and scope.  determination  It w i l l be r e c a l l e d that Brancusi seems  to have replaced the Penguins with the l a t e r Leda, which effected an e a s i e r transformation  between the animal s e r i e s , the Maiastra  and-Sculpture f o r the B l i n d , as well as conforming to his i d e o l o g i c a l reversal.  A second problem of i n c l u s i o n and exclusion a r i s e s with  the aforementioned Cog.  It,  l i k e Leda, the Penguins and the M a i a s t r a , •  i s a f l i g h t l e s s b i r d and has been seen, l i k e the Birds in Space, to represent the aspirations of the s p i r i t .  Unlike these works,  and a l l the others examined here, however, i t was o r i g i n a l l y in wood, and was never recreated in stone, only bronze. . It  carved is doubtful  i f i t s top heavy form, set on a thin l e g , could ever'have been success-  "  1  7  7  f u l l y executed in marble, even i f a system of i n t e r n a l support was arranged.  In- keeping with the methodological o u t l i n e , based on a  grouping by m a t e r i a l , the Cog must then be excluded from t h i s study, despite the apparent overlap in i t s conception. The second problem with the animal series l i e s in the forms themselves.  The animal, works do not evolve with the smooth, minute  and continuous transformations which characterize Brancusi's development of the Birds in Space from the i n i t i a l Maiastra and Sculpture f o r the Blind..  This process seems to have been rendered impossible  by the d i v e r s i t y of creatures which he used. concept l i n k s the various animals.  Nonetheless, a coherent  Each i s concerned not only with  an animal subject, but also with the medium through which that animal moves.  B r a n c u s i ' s preoccupation with motion and i t s  to Bergson need not be repeated here.  relationship  S u f f i c e i t to say that each  work in the s e r i e s implies through e i t h e r i t s forms or i t s  title,  or more commonly, through both, a state and medium of motion and that the major problem of the series i s e f f e c t i n g a transformation  from  the earth/water world of Leda to the airborne Birds in Space, following however, an a l t e r n a t i v e oppositional path to that of the B i r d s e r i e s . Since most of t h i s s e r i e s was created a f t e r the f i r s t Birds in Space, i t s direction.was predetermined and p r e d i c t a b l e .  Given  t h i s c o n d i t i o n , and Brancusi's growing i s o l a t i o n from his own h i s t o r i c a l s i t u a t i o n and the avant garde during the creation of the animal s e r i e s , i t lacks much of the semantic richness found in the humans and the e a r l y war-time work.  In f a c t , Brancusi appears to be working  backwards to a solution already established as e a r l y as 1920. 1  As we  s h a l l see, t h i s synchronic denial of time and evolution r e s u l t s in his f i n a l conception of the early 1940's l i n k i n g up conceptually and formally with the f i r s t Birds in Space of twenty years e a r l i e r . The length of time i t took Brancusi to resolve the s e r i e s i s i n d i c a t i v e of both the underlying continuity of his i d e a s , which he did not abandon but continued working on, and his trouble in f i n d i n g an e f f e c t i v e transformation.  Indeed, the f i n a l resolution although  precise and unmistakeable in i t s i n t e n t i o n , has the appearance of the makeshift about  it.  The f i r s t work in the s e r i e s following Leda i s o l a t e s the medium of motion which distinguishes Leda from the Maiastra—that of water. In 1922, Brancusi carved a marble F i s h .  Despite the continuity  of  concept between the aquatic Leda and the F i s h , . t h e forms are d i s s i m i l a r , although the ovoid of Sculpture f o r the B l i n d underlies each. The Fish f l a t t e n s t h i s ovoid and becomes a l o n g , t h i n e l l i p s e , pointed at one end, which bulges s l i g h t l y at the centre and tapers towards the edges.  In defiance of g r a v i t y , the Fish i s mounted on i t s thin  edge, f l o a t i n g over a polished metal m i r r o r . The appearance of motion through water as the p r i n c i p l e meaning of the Fish i s unmistakable. work.  Geist confirms t h i s aspect of the  " F i s h , while a poetic version of the natural forms, i s essen-  t i a l l y the image of f l u i d i t y , of f l o a t i n g , of passage without 2 friction."  He describes a l a r g e r l a t e r version in blue marble  as "an image of a l a r g e , blunted submarine creature which seems to hover  on i t s small mounting.  The polished and veined surface c a r r i e s an 3  i l l u s i o n of passage through water."  B r a n c u s i , in his customary  c r y p t i c s t y l e , was to emphasize the importance of motion in his conception of the F i s h . i t s s c a l e s , do you?  "When you see a f i s h , you do not  think.of  You think o f i t s speed, i t s f l o a t i n g , f l a s h i n g  body seen through water . . . W e l l , I've t r i e d to express j u s t that. If I made f i n s , and eyes and s c a l e s , I would a r r e s t i t s movement and hold a pattern and a shape of r e a l i t y . 4 of i t s  I want j u s t the f l a s h  spirit." But the Fish should, i f the problem posed at the outset i s  c o r r e c t , also suggest a t r a n s i t i o n to f l i g h t , or movement in a i r . In,, f a c t , l i k e a f l y i n g f i s h , i t f l o a t s above a mirrored s u r f a c e , in the a i r , as i t were. f u l l y on i t s p l a t e .  This i s accomplished by balancing the Fish careThis combination of e q u i l i b r i u m and f l i g h t  suggests a source f o r B r a n c u s i ' s unique conception.  In 1911,  L ' I l l u s t r a t i o n c a r r i e d an a r t i c l e o n . " 1 ' E q u i l i b r e des Poissons dans 1'eau" by F. Honore. Etudier les conditions. d. -.equilibre du poissons dans l ' e a u avee l ' e s p o i r de~trouver des preceptes applicables a 1 ' e q u i l i b r e des navires Seriens semble au premier abord une entreprise chimerique. 1  L ' a i r et l ' e a u , les gaz et les l i q u i d e s , possedent, en e f f e c t , des proprietes generales f o r t d i f f e r e n t e s . Les gaz sont compressibles, l ' e a u ne l ' e s t point'; l e m i l i e u 1 i qui de, d i t - o n , e s t , contrairement a l ' a i r , depourvu d ' e l a s t i c i t e . [  However, as the a r t i c l e points out, the contradiction i s only apparent, not r e a l , and may be overcome.  I n d e e d , . . i t ' i l l u s t r a t e s wooden  180 models of f i s h , (with f i n s ) , which were'used'to.'study for f l i g h t .  forms'ideal  The studies were p a r t i c u l a r l y u s e f u l , . a s "Pour ne c i t e r  qu'un example, un simple poisson nous revel era tout a l'heure certans defauts du Z e p p e l i n . " Just as motion and Zeppelins were a source of images f o r Brancusi, so was the concept of e v o l u t i o n .  The a r t i c l e explains that  " l e s poissons, au cours de 1 evolution durant des m i l l i e r s d'annees 1  qui a produit les formes a c t u e l l e s , furent modeles peu a par les t o u r b i l l o n s de 1'eau q u ' i l s depiacent en avangiant."^  This form seems  to.be what Brancusi t r i e d to capture. Brancusi's Fish was, however, a denial o f - e v o l u t i o n rather than its affirmation.  Brancusi's " s p i r i t "  of f i s h represents his ideal  of i t s essense, that i s the form which underlies a l l f i s h f o r a l l time; i t is timeless in i n t e n t , despite the fact t h a t , l i k e the Yellow B i r d , i t s forms coincide with contemporary technological innovation.  Thus, once a g a i n , Brancusi subverted b i o l o g i c a l and technological  evolution by using a timeless synchronic statement.: The combination of mechanical and:animal motion expressed i n an aerodynamic form i n the Fish is however, in opposition to that of the Yellow B i r d : • as the Yellow Bird-ascends to the heights, the Fish descends to the depths.  Nonetheless, as has been the case throughout the oeuvre,  t h i s opposition i s made e x p l i c i t and obscured at the same time. It has not y e t , however, been resolved.  The l a s t remaining problem  with the-Fish i s i t s possible, personal connotations.  Given Brancusi's  i d e n t i f i c a t i o n with the other works in his oeuvre, i t would be sur-  181 p r i s i n g i f t h i s image of the s p i r i t of f i s h did not have a broader personal s i g n i f i c a n c e .  Giedon-Welder. reports that B r a n c u s i , in f a c t ,  regarded the Fish almost a s . h i s emblem as "he was born on February 21st Q  under the signs of Pisces and J u p i t e r . "  . The emphasis on the Fish as  s p i r i t also suggest possible e a r l y C h r i s t i a n iconographic a s s o c i a t i o n s , as the f i s h was a symbol of C h r i s t .  It w i l l . b e r e c a l l e d that the  impulse towards s p i r i t u a l .purity suggested here i s made more e x p l i c i t in l a t e r works.  If the conjunction of C h r i s t and the personal symbol  are acceptable, we see again the appearance of an elevated concept of the a r t i s t , which was f i r s t expressed in the Muse and Prometheus. Indeed, i t would appear that Brancusi remained f a i t h f u l to his ideal of the a r t i s t as someone in touch with the divine who suffered. This concept of a r t i s t as a Prometheus/Christ f i g u r e , such as we see implied here, i s a throwback to Gauguin, the symbolists and Rodin. As Caso and Sanders point out in t h e i r commentary on Rodin's " C h r i s t and the Magdalene:" The self-concept of the late-nineteenth-century a r t i s t n a t u r a l l y included an i d e n t i f i c a t i o n with C h r i s t . Gauguin, f o r one, had repeatedly painted himself as C h r i s t . Rodin's i n t e n t i o n a l use of C h r i s t as a type f o r the man of genius in t h i s group i s elucidated by a l t e r n a t i v e t i t l e s f o r the work, Prometheus and anx Ocean i d and Prometheus Bound. Throughout the century Prometheus, who was frequently i d e n t i f i e d with a r t i s t , was also associated with C h r i s t . Both were superior men who suffered for mankind. The a r t i s t and poet frequently saw themselves in t h i s l i g h t , and on more than one occasion Rodin compared himself with the Greek hero and a sympathetic woman with the Ocean i d . . . . Seen in t h i s context, then, the C h r i s t and the Magdalene seems to:be one more of Rodin's speculations on the nature of genius and the role of the a r t i s t . If the work can be associated, i n the most'-general sense with the s u f f e r i n g man of genuis and his consoling muse or l o v e r , the associations with C h r i s t and Prometheus suggest subtle shades of meaning that enrich the e s s e n t i a l idea.9  It also cast subtle shades of meaning on B r a n c u s i ' s Fish and consequently, i t s r e l a t i o n s h i p to the Muse and Prometheus.  Indeed,  i t completes the meanings inherent in the l a t t e r two works. It also indicates that Brancusi was both adhering to ideas he f i r s t expressed in 1911 and remaining true to his f i r s t sources of i n s p i r a t i o n . so much else in his oeuvre, his concept of himself did not  Like  alter  with the vagaries of time. The idea of personal s p i r i t u a l  f u l f i l l m e n t , which  ultimately  suggests the Birds in Space, also points in the d i r e c t i o n of the next work in the s e r i e s of animals.  It w i l l be r e c a l l e d that t h i s  impulse  i s contained in a metaphor of motion and that the Fish moves in water, while the Birds in Space a r e , as the t i t l e s t a t e s , in space.  The  disjunction and opposition between heights and depths i m p l i e s , then, the expectation that the next work in the s e r i e s must in some way form a l i n k which begins to resolve t h i s opposition.  The S e a l ,  f i n i s h e d about 1936, but s t a r t e d , according to G e i s t , s h o r t l y  after  the f i r s t F i s h , that i s , about 1924, meets these requirements i n both , i t s form and i t s  content. *^ 1  The Seal combines the forms of Leda.with those of the F i s h , and as w i l l be seen, of the Birds in Space.  Geist has again pointed out  the f i r s t of these formal r e l a t i o n s h i p s .  "Almost as minimal in  its  elements as the F i s h , the Seal l i k e the Fish imposes i t s e l f by i t s size.  Nor i s i t an altogether new image:  volumes is s i m i l a r to that of L e d a . "  1 1  the d i s p o s i t i o n of  The j o i n i n g . o f  the  its  unitary  form of the Fish with the shape of Leda should also accompany a  183 j o i n i n g of the two states of motion.  The Seal must j o i n the submarine  world of the Fish with the surface water and landed world of Leda. This i s in fact the case.  Seals move in a l l three realms. 1  They mediate  between.these oppositions and serve as ideal operators in the conceptual transformation between them. ambiguity.  Geist has noted t h i s necessary  The Seals' "ambiguity r e f l e c t s that of i t s natural model, 12  a l e g l e s s mammal with f i s h y powers." The Seal does not yet complete, however, the l i n k between the animals and the Birds in Space.  Nonetheless, the Seal does seem  to aspire to f l i g h t with an upward movement much l i k e that of the Go!den B i r d s . . Indeed, the formal, s i m i l a r i t y is very c l o s e .  Geist  points out that the S e a l ' s " f a c i a l plane i s s i m i l a r to the bevel in Birds in Space . . . i f  the neck of the Seal i s projected beyond the  head, the f a c i a l plane.bears the same r e l a t i o n to the tapering mass thus produced as the bevel to the B i r d .  (The l a s t Birds and the Seal  taper at the same s p e e d ) . . . . . . . U n i t a r y , unaccented on i t s  great  s u r f a c e , the Seal i s situated formally between Leda and B i r d in 13 Space."  The formal kinship becomes c l e a r e r i f the Seal i s seen  at a low angle from the f r o n t so that i t s mass i s obscured and i t s upward motion emphasized. - Yet the Seal does not a t t a i n 14 p i t e .its a l t e r n a t i v e . t i t l e ,  flight;.des-.  the M i r a c l e .  We come then, to the f i n a l work in the animal s e r i e s .  The  foregoing should allow certain predictions to be made about both i t s form and content.  It must involve the idea of motion.  t h i s motion must be capable of being an operator in the  Furthermore  transformation  184 of the earth/water realm of the Leda, Fish and Seal into the opposition of the open sky of the Birds in Space. predictable.  Its form should also be  It should, in some manner, combine features of the Seal  with those of the B i r d s .  Finally, it,  l i k e the Birds in Space,  should sublimate s e x u a l i t y into s p i r i t u a l i t y .  But of most importance,  the work must be the f i n a l conception in the oeuvre. nothing beyond i t ,  Hypothetically,  except t h e . B i r d s i n Space, should be p o s s i b l e ,  i f the oeuvre i s to maintain i t s i n t e g r i t y and the analysis of the concerns i s to be deemed c o r r e c t . A l l of these conditions are met in the Flying Turtle of 1940/ 1945.  It i s , in f a c t , the f i n a l new conception introduced into the  oeuvre.  It i s problematic however in that the subject of the t u r t l e  was f i r s t carved in wood, although t h i s piece has been destroyed. This is the only p o i n t , in the work examined, of a crossover between the two media.  The form and s i g n i f i c a n c e of the wooden T u r t l e ,  however, are e n t i r e l y d i f f e r e n t Turtle.  from those of the marble F l y i n g  As Geist points out, "Like Bird in Space and F i s h , i t  is  a creature that moves in a f l u i d medium, s a t i s f i e d to plane deter15 minedly i n low f l i g h t , a foot above the ground."  But although  G e i s t ' s assertion of movement and f l i g h t i s c o r r e c t , he i s overly precise as to where the t u r t l e moves.  He does not r e a l i z e that  ambiguity can have a very s p e c i f i c s i g n i f i c a n c e , and Flying T u r t l e , as i t s name i m p l i e s , i s ambiguous. underwater and on land. named i t ,  It may, as a t u r t l e move both  But when Brancusi turned i t . o n i t s back and  he gave i t the magical power of f l i g h t .  Thus Flying Turtle  185 contains the necessary transformative functions to mediate between the world and motion of the Seals and that of the Birds in Space. It also has a form that i s midway between the Seals and the Birds in Flight.  In order to see the s i m i l a r i t y between the three works,  the T u r t l e must be seen from the side rather than from the front or the top.  The p r o f i l e image disguises the spade l i k e wing forms by showing,  as i n the S e a l , an elongated form s l i g h t l y bent upward to emphasize the p o s s i b i l i t y of ascension.  On the other hand, and d i s t i n c t from  the S e a l , the angle i s reduced so that i t becomes very close to the bulging chest of the Birds in Space on one side and to t h e i r spine on the other.  straight  The head section i s even truncated, although in  t h i s case, the underlying form i s angular rather than round.  Formally  as well as conceptually, the Flying T u r t l e i s an intermediary in the l i n g u i s t i c transformation from the realm of the animals to that of the B i r d s . No commentary e x i s t s on the question of the sublimation of the e r o t i c into the s p i r i t u a l , but i f one instance of symbolic speculation may be o f f e r e d , i t does seem to be present.  The projecting head  of the Flying T u r t l e does seem, in the same way as Spear observed i n the M a i a s t r a , to have a p h a l l i c c a s t .  Furthermore, the spade shape  of the body may also be interpreted as p h a l l i c . referent may be i n f e r r e d . to f l y .  Thus a sexual  This i s tempered, however, by i t s  ability  This has been seen as amove to the s p i r i t u a l , both in  Bergson's universe, in which even the humblest creature aspires to overcome the l i m i t a t i o n s of material e x i s t e n c e , and in B r a n c u s i ' s  186 Birds.  Indeed, the Flying Turtle seems to have jumped several stages  in c r e a t i v e e v o l u t i o n , and aspires to a .union with the s p i r i t u a l . Lewis has stated that with "the Turtle s c u l p t u r e , Brancusi . . . wished to show that the. l o w l i e s t and most modest was capable of 'the journey towards G o d . ' "  16  Thus although the idea of a f l y i n g t u r t l e may seem a b s u r d , given the context of the oeuvre and the l o g i c a l necessity of forming a l i n k between the animals and the birds so that the two series could be j o i n e d , i t s existence becomes not only s i g n i f i c a n t , but a categorical imperative.  Geist sees t h i s work as having a " f i n a l i t y  although for d i f f e r e n t  in the oeuvre"  reasons; he supposed that through i t  "Brancusi  was refusing at the l a s t moment the l o g i c a l outcome of both his sculptural and s p i r i t u a l  progress."  He does, however, agree that  "Brancusi's ascentional nature would have found the earth hugging image i n t o l e r a b l e as a way to close the oeuvre" ^ and hence endowed 1  i t with the a b i l i t y to  fly.  Brancusi may also have i d e n t i f i e d personality with the T u r t l e , which was created in the f i r s t years of the Second World War.  It  has been established that following World War I Brancusi was becoming i n c r e a s i n g l y hermetic in his concerns, and more closed o f f from the s o c i a l and p o l i t i c a l events which i n s p i r e d his e a r l i e r work. The Impasse Ronsin seemsto have become, from reports of l a t e r y e a r s , something of a refuge, i f not a hermitage.  "Like t h e t u r t l e ,  Brancusi  was providing himself with a protective armour from the outside world while maintaining his s p i r i t u a l  aspirations.  It remains quite p o s s i b l e ,  then, that as Geist says, " F l y i n g Turtle in Brancusi's dgfi in the face of  flung  fate."^  With the Flying T u r t l e , Brancusi f i n i s h e d the oeuvre, both phys i c a l l y , semantically and p h i l o s o p h i c a l l y .  He had completed the whole.  . . . the [ t o t a l ] body of work is easy to consider as a whole because of the c l a r i t y of i t s physical o u t l i n e s . Brancusi's studio was not c l u t t e r e d by the sketches and unfinished projects common to most s c u l p t o r s ' s t u d i o s . Besides the f i n i s h e d works, there i s a sacred and abandoned marble head of a c h i l d ; a Bird in Space in the i n i t i a l stages of being roughed out; some p l a s t e r s . . . . Thus the oeuvre that Brancusi l e f t us gives the impression of having no loose ends, no gropings in many d i r e c t i o n s , no ultimate f r u s t r a t i o n s . Here i s a body of work whose l i m i t s appear 'to be p e r f e c t l y contained by the a r t i s t . 1 9 The l a s t work of the oeuvre in p l a c e , i t i s now possible to j o i n the two s e r i e s of animals and to l i n k these up with the humans. When t h i s i s done, as in diagram v i , . the c l a r i t y of the as a whole becomes apparent.,  structure  Indeed, t h i s c l a r i t y almost obscures  i t s inherent complexity and the profundity of i t s themes.  It i s possible  now to see that a central axis runs from the Kiss through the Sculpture fnr t.hp B l i n d to the Birds in Space.  This oppositional axis i s based  on the Bergsonian d i v i s i o n of s p i r i t and matter, here expressed as the sacred and the profane, or the s p i r i t u a l and the sexual. the works are grouped around t h i s central a x i s . culture i s transformed into nature.  All  At i t s end p o i n t s ,  In order to go from one end of  the opposition to the other, one passes from the s p e c i f i c , through the ambiguous to the n o n - d i f f e r e n t i a t e d then back along a reverse path.  Sculpture for the B l i n d and  This central internal  structure  both obscures and reconciles the oppositions and contradictions in Brancusi's sculptural discourse.  It also corresponds very c l o s e l y  187 A  Nature  <  Immaterial Spiritual Saered  >  Culture Figure 6  188 to Bergson.  "Behind ' s p i r i t u a l i t y '  on the one hand, and  'materiality'  . . . on the other, there are then two processes opposite i n t h e i r d i r e c t i o n , and we pass from the f i r s t to the second by way of inver20 s i o n , or perhaps even by simple  interruption."  Other o p p o s i t i o n s , i t becomes c l e a r , are arranged in isomorphic series.  These are arranged symmetrically, and d i v i d e d " i n t o two  larger symmetrically arranged opposing groups, divided between animals and humans.  The human series are paired into dyadic r e l a t i o n s h i p s  according to sex, i . e . male and female, the animals are divided by the medium through which they move, i . e . a i r and water, or high and low. But the structure i t s e l f ,  now seen as a t o t a l i t y , also reconciles  the opposition between dyadic and concentric forms of symmetry. Although the series themsevles are arranged i n symmetrical o p p o s i t i o n s , joined at the top and bottom, the progression of states through which each series passes, i . e . from the non-differentiated  to the ambiguous  to the s p e c i f i c , which run in each d i r e c t i o n , i s c o n c e n t r i c , outward from the central Sculpture f o r the B l i n d .  radiating  In each case, both  above and below: the Sculpture for the B l i n d , i s a t r i a d i c arrangement, I.e.  Princess X—Sculpture f o r the BIind—Newborn, or Maiastra—  Sculpture for the Blind—Leda (or animal-god-human).  Levi-Strauss in  Structural Anthropology'has pointed out at great length that when a t r i a d i c arrangement i s grouped so that a symmetrical opposition occurs, the r e s u l t i s , as we have here, a concentric transformation. structural  arrangement Ties at the core of many forms of  This  primitive  189 s o c i a l groupings.  Shalevy has d i s t i l l e d Levi-:Strauss' observations  on these s t r u c t u r e s .  "The problem i s , then, t h r e e f o l d :  (1) to  explain the nature of diametric s t r u c t u r e , (2) to explain the nature of concentric s t r u c t u r e , and (3) to explain how most diametric structures present both a symmetrical character . . . and an asymmetrical character, so that they are midway between absolutely symmetrical 21 s o c i e t i e s and the asymmetrical concentric forms." This overview of the e n t i r e structure also reveals other prev i o u s l y concealed r e l a t i o n s h i p s .  For example, the f i r s t works-, the  Muses, are i n s p i r a t i o n a l in nature, they sublimate the s p i r i t u a l  into  the s e x u a l , the f i n a l works are. a s p i r a t i o n a l , they sublimate the sexual into the s p i r i t u a l .  The Sleeper i s s t a t i c , the Birds in  Soace, conversely, are free to move in a l l d i r e c t i o n s . The e n t i r e oeuvre e x h i b i t s a highly d i s c i p l i n e d and coherent intellectual  infrastructure.  Like a piece of music i t may be enjoyed  on many d i f f e r e n t l e v e l s . A l s o ' l i k e mythologies in general i t . . . . makes demands p r i m a r i l y on the neuromental aspects because of the length of the n a r r a t i o n , the recurrance of c e r t a i n themes, and the other forms of back references and . p a r a l l e l s which can only be c o r r e c t l y grasped i f the l i s t e n e r ' s . mind surveys, as i t were, the whole range of the story as i t unfolded.21 a The whole becomes, also Tike a piece of music, an enclosed synchronic t o t a l i t y .  The f i n a l stage i n t h i s denial of time would  be to return to the point of o r i g i n , the K i s s . been s t a t e d , Brancusi" did t h i s .  Indeed, as has  The l a s t stone work that he created  was a f i n a l version c a l l e d Boundary Marker, of 1945.  Significantly,  t h i s may have been his f i n a l statement against a second war.  Although  Geist believes that i t may have been done in response to S t a l i n ' s p a r t i t i o n i n g of Romania in the Tate years of World War I I ,  and thus  a statement of n a t i o n a l i s t i c sentiment, t h i s i s probably not the 22 case.  Its protest l i e s in a d i f f e r e n t area.  More l i k e l y ,  this  image of l o v e , which Geist also recognizes, i s in keeping with i t s point of o r i g i n , a c a l l to the d i s s o l u t i o n of boundaries through l o v e , be i t s e x u a l , s p i r i t u a l or that of brotherhood.  Whatever the  case, t h i s image returns us to the i n i t i a l work with which Brancusi began his sculptural language.  The f i n a l boundaries which Brancusi  erased were u l t i m a t e l y those of time.  191  Footnotes—Chapter V I I I  1.  Pompon's Coq i s i l l u s t r a t e d pp. 58-59.  2.  G e i s t , 1968, p. 82.  3.  I b i d . , p. 107.  4.  Brancusi to Malvina Hoffman, c i t e d in J i a n o u , n.p.  5.  F. Honore, " L ' e q u i l i b r e des poissons dans L ' I l l u s t r a t i o n , 16 December 1911, p. 500.  6.  Ibid.  7.  Ibid.  8.  C. Giedion-Welcker, in J i a n o u , pp.  9.  De Caso and Sanders, p. 94.  10.  G e i s t , 1968, p. 191.  11.  I b i d . , p. 116.  12.  G e i s t , 1969, p. 132.  1.3.  G e i s t , 1968, pp. 116-117.  14.  It seems that seals had a deep personal s i g n i f i c a n c e for Brancusi. Various reports .indicate that he kept a f i l e of pictures of them in his a t e l i e r . No statement has been found, however, on t h i s s i g n i f i c a n c e , e i t h e r by Brancusi or his commentators. A p o s s i b i l i t y also e x i s t s that the Seal contains a reference to Rodin's Balzac. Elsen has pointed out that "small p l a s t e r caricatures of the sculpture . . . were made and sold in the streets of P a r i s . One of these in the Rodin Museum at P h i l a d e l p h i a shows a seal in the p o s i t i o n of B a l z a c ; on i t s base i s w r i t t e n "One Step Forward," a j e s t i n g reference both to the pose and to the notion of Rodin's leadership in sculpture." Also El sen, Rodin (New York: p. 103.  in The Studio, V o l . 86, 1923,  l'eauin  The Museum of Modern A r t ,  1963),  192 15.  G e i s t , 1968, p. 133.  16.  Lewis, p. 38.  17.  G e i s t , 1969, p. 135.  18.  Ibid.  19.  G e i s t , 1975, pp. 14-15.  20.  Bergson, C r e a t i v e , p. 212.  21.  Shalevy, p. 89.  21a.  L e v i - S t r a u s s , The Raw and the Cooked, p. 16.  22.  G e i s t , 1978, p. 80.  CONCLUSION  B r a n c u s i ' s stone works, when seen as a t o t a l i t y and examined in a structuralist  framework based on Claude L e v i - S t r a u s s ' t h e o r i e s ,  form a rational whole.  This t o t a l i t y may, in t u r n , be accurately  termed a language system. without s i g n i f i c a n c e . of each piece.  As i n any language system, nothing i s  Information i s coded in the forms and content  A l l i t s parts are coherently r e l a t e d .  Yet these  r e l a t i o n s h i p s are of a. special order, that defined as "concrete l o g i c " or "mythological  thought" which Levi-Strauss says characterizes  primitive societies.  One i s , in f a c t , tempted to c a l l Brancusi's  s c u l p t u r a l system a mythology. of r e a l i t y .  He i s , at any r a t e , an ideal model  The system i s so precise that once i t s major premises  are s t a t e d , the presence of much of the rest i s p r e d i c t a b l e . q u a l i t y of p r e d i c t a b i l i t y  i s , in the f i n a l a n a l y s i s , the standard of  v a l i d i t y for both the methodology and i t s a p p l i c a t i o n . underlines the i n h e r e n t l y , r a t i o n a l ,  It also  binary character of Brancusi's  thought, as well as his consistency throughout the e n t i r e of. his  This  period  production. This s t r u c t u r a l i s t  a n a l y s i s , which combines the h i s t o r i c with  the l i n g u i s t i c , and the synchronic with the d i a c h r o n i c , also overcomes a frequent c r i t i c i s m of L e v i - S t r a u s s ' t h e o r i e s .  It i s some-  times stated t h a t , even i f v a l i d , h i s methodology often impoverishes rather than enriches that to which i t i s a p p l i e d .  It has been  194 suggested that i t reduces mythological structures of i n f i n i t e .variety to a few pre-established oppositions? life/death etc.  n a t u r e / c u l t u r e , wild/tame,  As can be seen, however, while these oppositions  are embedded in the conceptual i n f r a s t r u c t u r e of B r a n c u s i ' s s c u l p t u r e , the methodology in no way reduces i t s o l e l y to these concerns. If anything, the study reveals the s u r p r i s i n g l y r i c h f i e l d of associations on which Brancusi drew to create his oeuvre.  In f a c t ,  the s t r u c t u r a l i s t analysis makes i t apparent that i t i s an e x c l u s i v e l y formal approach which impoverishes our understanding by bypassing the semantic r e l a t i o n s h i p s found i n the content of a r t .  Used properly,  a s t r u c t u r a l i s t analysis enhances our knowledge of both the subjective thought processes and objective c u l t u r a l matrix of a r t i s t s such as Brancusi, as well as showing how t h e i r a r t constitutes the nexus between the two. Consequently, one of the major contributions of t h i s analysis is that i t shows the m u l t i - l a y e r e d s i g n i f i c a n c e of such works as the K i s s , the Muse, Princess X, the Maiastra and the Leda.  Their richness  of meaning goes well beyond the s i g n i f i c a n c e of t h e i r form, and makes them "bonnes a penser" as well as beautiful to behold.  Indeed, as  can be seen with the Sculpture for the B l i n d , even the simplest and purest of forms can be endowed with a complex, yet precise s i g n i f i c a n c e when examined in i t s r e l a t i o n s h i p to the rest of the oeuvre, and to the h i s t o r i c a l period of i t s c r e a t i o n . The contribution of the analysis goes f u r t h e r .  Although the  four s e r i e s which constitute Brancusi's stone works have been perceived  195 before, a s t r u c t u r a l i s t methodology is necessary to place them in t h e i r l o g i c a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s with each other.  It demonstrates t h a t , when  seen in r e t r o s p e c t , Brancusi conceived his subjects in p a r a l l e l ismorphic series which are both oppositional and a p p o s i t i o n a l .  These  four s e r i e s a r e , in t u r n , grouped into two oppositional systems. When the metaphoric and metonymic transformation of each s e r i e s are examined, i t becomes apparent that the works progress as much by semantic meaning as by form.  The Sculpture for the B l i n d s i t s at the  centre of these coherently arranged s e r i e s , i t s own f i r s t cause and i t s own point of o r i g i n . The s i m p l i c i t y * a n d r a t i o n a l i t y of t h i s underlying structure also demonstrates the v a l i d i t y of the analysis on, the grounds of i n t e l l e c tual parsimony, or the p r i n c i p l e - t h a t the simplest explanation i s the truest.  G e i s t , and others have,noted that B r a n c u s i ' s work forms a  coherent and r a t i o n a l whole, but when they attempted to analyze it,  they produced unrelated s e r i e s which crossed and recrossed at  random, in e f f e c t having a very complicated underlying s t r u c t u r e . The s t r u c t u r a l i s t analysis indicates that the underlying structure is much more r a t i o n a l than o r i g i n a l l y perceived.  It i s the simplest  possible s o l u t i o n that integrates a l l aspects of the form and content of the works, with t h e i r development, and t h e i r h i s t o r i c a l s e t t i n g . In t u r n , the analysis indicates that Brancusi's works f a l l three main periods.  into  These begin with his j o i n i n g the avant garde  i n 1907 and the K i s s , and end i n h i s r e l a t i v e i s o l a t i o n i n the cul-de-sac of the Impasse Rosin.  Nonetheless, the continuity of the  196 underlying concepts r e l a t e the end to the beginning and established t h a t , as Geist proposed and as Brancusi i n d i c a t e d , the works were l a r g e l y conceived more or less at one time and worked out over the remainder of the s c u l p t o r ' s  life.  The f i r s t of the three periods dates from 1907 to 1913, and begins with the K i s s .  With t h i s work Brancusi declared himself in  alignment with an avant garde which was, at the time, fascinated with " p r i m i t i v e " a r t forms and techniques.  Symbolists l i k e Gaugin,  the Fauves Tike Derain and Matisse, and possibly Picasso, a l l of whom were c o l l e c t i n g p r i m i t i v e . a r t of i n s p i r a t i o n for Brancusi.  o b j e c t s , proved to be sources  This r e j e c t i o n of his long academic  t r a i n i n g , which Geist has noted but f o r which he-offers no c l e a r explanations, must be related to the sympathy between Brancusi's " p r i m i t i v e " nature and the avant garde's " p r i m i t i v i s i n g " tendencies in the c r u c i a l period of 1906/1907. P a r a l l e l i n g Picasso, Brancusi at f i r s t assimilated and"then rejected the technical and formal influence of Rodin. Brancusi turned to d i r e c t c a r v i n g .  With the Kiss  Nonetheless, u n t i l the F i r s t  World War, several of Brancusi's mythological subjects were drawn from Rodin.  Yet Brancusi's choice, and his use of these subjects  tended to be.very much his own, and f i t i n f r a s t r u c t u r e that he was c r e a t i n g . of t h i s period.  in p e r f e c t l y with the  So too, did his  portraits  A f t e r 1914, however, Brancusi completely abandoned  Rodin as a source for his stone work.  He also stopped introducing  new subjects to his human head s e r i e s , which, for a l l intents and purposes, came to. an end.  197 Aside from these i n f l u e n c e s , the analysis also c l a r i f i e s Brancusi's r e l a t i o n s h i p to the philosopher, Henri Bergson. The s t r u c t u r a l i s t analysis establishes that Brancusi understood and employed the i n t e r r e l a t e d concept of creative e v o l u t i o n ,  intuition,  duration, motion, time, elan v i t a l e and the opposition between s p i r i t and matter.  Furthermore, it-Jshows how Brancusi transformed and expressed  these i d e a s . i n terms of concrete l o g i c in sculptural form.  The  analysis demonstrates that Brancusi adhered to these ideas into h i s second and t h i r d periods when other members of the avant garde were dropping them.  In f a c t , Bergson's i d e a s , which Brancusi would  have encountered as soon-as he reached P a r i s , are the constant in a l l his works.  The analysis also demonstrates, that while Brancusi's  works refer to and draw.their meaning from philosophic t e x t s , they are not dependent on them, but form t h e i r own system, p a r a l l e l but independent of  to,  literature.  The remaining feature which characterized Brancusi's works of the f i r s t period were related to his alignment with the a r t i s t s of the Abbaye de CretieT and his s o c i a l i s t sympathies.  These concerns  and sympathies were, however, demonstrated to be based on the diachronic idea of s o c i a l evolution and were i n i m i c a l to timeless q u a l i t i e s of a synchronic mythological s t r u c t u r e .  The methodology  points out and even predicts how he disposed of.them during the war years and t h e r e a f t e r , by f i r s t replacing the Penguins with the Leda and then by transforming the Maiastra into Its opposite. As Brancusi developed, i t was his adherence to his timeless structure  198 that separated him from other progressing movements in the evolving avant garde. In the second period of Brancusi s work, which occured during 1  the war, he created a sequence which embodied the concept of the c y c l i c regeneration of both l i f e and c u l t u r e .  In so doing he drew  on several sources—monumental, mythological, musical and mechanical. But while employing modern and mechanical forms, and a s s o c i a t i o n s , Brancusi, with a c h a r a c t e r i s t i c pardox, subverted s o c i a l evolution and technological progression and turned h i s t o r y back on i t s e l f . T h i s , in t u r n , i s o l a t e d him. from his contemporaries in the avant garde l i k e Leger, who were, by t h i s time, emphasizing the diachronic aspects of t h e i r work. In the post war p e r i o d , operating more and more from a p o s i t i o n of i s o l a t i o n in the cul-de-sac of the; Impasse Rosin, Brancusi moved out of l i n e with other avant garde movements and more and more towards s p i r i t u a l i t y .  In the face of the appeal to reason by the  " c a l l to order" a r t i s t s and to the subconscious by the S u r r e a l i s t s , Brancusi remained f a i t h f u l to Bergson's concept of duration.and elan v i t a l e .  intuition,  Abandoning s o c i a l i s m and the human con-  d i t i o n , however, Brancusi also abandoned human subject matter and worked out his remaining problems in his two s e r i e s of animal subjects.  These c o n s t i t u t e the overwhelming proportion of his  new post-war s u b j e c t s .  In f i n a l i z i n g his s t r u c t u r e , he returned  i n 1945, to h i s o r i g i n a l point of. departure, and thus attempted to the end to turn back time.  The methodology, as applied to Brancusi's unique s i t u a t i o n of a p r i m i t i v e embedded i n a modern s o c i e t y , answers a second major c r i t i c i s m of L e v i - S t r a u s s , that, i s that he denies the idea of s o c i a l progress and evolution..  T h i s . challenge has been leveled from  several f r o n t s , but here i s proven to be groundless.  While L e v i -  Strauss' s u b j e c t , i . e . p r i m i t i v e mythological s t r u c t u r e s , may be synchronic, as are the s o c i e t i e s which produce them, the methodology of s t r u c t u r a l i s m s t i l l of the d i a c h r o n i c .  allows f o r , and indeed, demands the i n c l u s i o n  In f a c t , t h i s study has demonstrated how the  synchronic responds'to the diachronic. to each.  It gives v a l i d i t y , however,  Levi-Strauss c o n t i n u a l l y i n s i s t s that both must always  be included in any study of myth.  200  BIBLIOGRAPHY  I.  Books and Catalogues  Abraham, K a r l . Dreams and Myths; a study in race psychology. (Trans, by William White) New York: Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease Publishing C o . , 1913. B a t a i l l e , Georges. Les larmes des Eros. Bergson, Henri. Creative Evolution. London: Macmillan, 1913. '•  Paris:  Pauvert, 1971.  (Trans, by Arthur M i t c h e l l )  " - ~ - Matiere et Memoire;: e s s a i s u r T a r e l a t i o n du corps a 1 ' e s p r i t . " F e l i x A l c a n , 1914. . Selections from Bergson, Ed. by Harold A. Larrabee. New York: Appelton, Century, C r o f t s , 1949.  B u l l f i n c h , Thomas.  B u l l f i n c h ' s Mythology.  Feltham:  Hamlyn, 1964.  Burnham, Jack. Great Western S a l t Works: essays on the meaning of p o s t - f o r m a l i s t a r t . New York: George B r a z i l l e r , 1974. . 1973.  The Structure of A r t .  New York:  George B r a z i l l e r ,  B u t l e r , Ruth. Western Sculpture, d e f i n i t i o n s of man. New York Graphic S o c i e t y , 1975.  Boston:  Cendrars, B l a i s e . L'Eubage aux Antipodes de 1'Unite. Au Sans P a r e i l , 1926.  Paris,  Charbonnier, George. Entretiens avec L e v i - S t r a u s s . Jul H a r d , 1961.  Paris:  Rene  De Caso, Jacques and Sanders, P a t r i c i a . Rodin's Sculpture; a c r i t i c a l study of the SpreckeT's C o l l e c t i o n . San Francisco: The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 1977. El sen, A l b e r t . Origins of Modern Sculpture: Oxford: Phaidon, 1974.  Pioneers and Premises.  Rodin.  New York:  France, AnatoTe. Penguin Island. Blue Ribbon Books, 1909.  The Museum of Modern A r t , 1963. (Trans, by E.W. Evans) New York:  G e i s t , Sidney. Brancusi: A study of the sculpture. Grossman P u b l i s h e r s , 1968. .  Brancusi/The K i s s .  New York:  New York:  Harper and Row, 1978.  . Brancusi, The Sculpture and Drawings. Abrams, 1975.  New York:  . Constantin Brancusi 1876-1957, a retrospective exhibition. New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim, 1969. Giedion-Welcker, Carol a. B r a z i l l e r , 1959.  Constantin Brancusi.  New York:  Green, Christopher. Leger and the Avant-garde. Yale U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1976.  George  New Haven:  Hauser, Arnold. The Social History of A r t , V o l . 4, Naturalism, Impressionism, The Film Age. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul , 1962. Hoffman, Maivina. Sculpture: Books, 1939.  Inside and Out.  New York:  Jacques, H e n r i r - P a u l . Mythologie et Psychanalyse: Danaides. Ottawa, Lemeac, 1969. Jianou, Ionel.  Constantin Brancusi.  London:  l e chatiment des  Tiranti,  Johnson, Ron. The Early Sculpture of Picasso 1901-1914. Garland, 1976. Krauss, Rosalind. Passages in Modern Sculpture. Viking Press, 1977. Leach, Edmund.  Levi-Strauss.  Glasgow:  L e v i - S t r a u s s , Claude. Myth and Meaning. of Toronto Press, 1978.  Bonanza  1957. New York:  New York:  Fontana Books, 1970. Toronto:  University  . The Raw and the Cooked. (Trans, by John and Doreen Weightman) New York: Harper and Row, 1975. . The Savage Mind. .Chicago: Press, 1966. No t r a n s l a t o r named.  U n i v e r s i t y of Chicago  202 '  . S t r u c t u r a l i s t Anthropology. (Trans, by C. Jacobson and B. Schoeff) New York: Basic Books, 1963. . La Voie des Masques. ( e d i t i o n revue, augmentee, et rallongee des t r o i s excursions) P a r i s : L i b r a i r i e PI on, 1979.  Marc-Li piansky. 1973.  Le Structuralisme de L e v i - S t r a u s s .  Neagoe, Peter. The Saint of Montparnasse. Books, 1965. Noguchi, Isamu. 1968.  A Sculptor'.,s World.  Paris:  Payot,  P h i l a d e l p h i a , Chilton  New York:  Scholes, Robert. Structuralism in L i t e r a t u r e . University Press, 1974.  Harper and Row, New Haven:  Yale  Shalvey, Thomas. Claude L e v i - S t r a u s s ; s o c i a l psychotherapy and the col 1ective unconscious. Amherst: University of.Massachusetts Press, 1979. Spear, Athena. Brancusi's B i r d s . of America, 1969.  New York:  S t e i n e r , George. Language and S i l e n c e . Penguin Books, 1969.  College Art Association  Harmondsworth, England:  Tabart,. Marie.ile. Brancusi, Photographie. d ' A r t Moderne, 1979.  Paris:  Tucker, W i l l i a m . Early Modern Sculpture. Press, 1974.  New York:  II.  Musee National Oxford University  A r t i c l e s and Unpublished Material  Boime, A l b e r t . "Brancusi in New York, abovo ad I n f i n i t u m , " Magazine, May 1970, pp. 332-6.  Burlington  Brezianu. "The Beginnings, of B r a n c u s i , " Art J o u r n a l , F a l l , 1965, pp. 15-25. . "Le Secret du ' B a i s e r ' Louvre, 1969, pp. 25-30.  de B r a n c u s i , " La Revue du  Codreane, Irene. pp. 235-6.  "Aphorisms of B r a n c u s i , " This Quarter, 1925,  F l o r i d a , Robert. "The G i r l Who Married the Bear," Religion and Culture in Canada, Essays by members of the Canadian Society for the Study of R e l i g i o n , 1979. G e i s t , Sidney. "Brancusi, the Meyers and P o r t r a i t of Mrs. Eugene Meyer J r . Studies in the History of A r t , Washington: National G a l l e r y , 1974, pp. ... "The C e n t r a l i t y of the Gage," Artforum, 1973, pp. 29-28. L Ilustration.  October,  P a r i s , 23 September, 30 September, 16 December, 1911  1  Krauss, Rosalind. pp. 33-38.  "Nightwalkers," Art J o u r n a l , Spring, 1981,  L e v i - S t r a u s s , Claude. "The Bear and the Barber," Journal of the Royal Anthropological I n s t i t u t e , January-June, 1963, pp. 1-11. M.M.  "Constantin Brancusi, a summary of many conversations," The A r t s , J u l y , 1923, pp. 14-29.  The L i t t l e Review. Pound, Ezra.  "Brancusi Number," Autumn, 1921.  " B r a n c u s i , " The L i t t l e Review, Autumn, 1921, pp. 3-7.  This Quarter.  Spring, 1925.  Robbins, D a n i e l . "From Symbolism to Cubism: The Abbaye de C r e t e i l , Art J o u r n a l , Winter, 1963/64, pp. 111-116. Roche, H.P. "L Enterrement de B r a n c u s i , " Homage de l a Sculpture a Brancusi, P a r i s , 1957, pp. 1  .  "Souvenirs sur B r a n c u s i , " L ' O e i 1 , May 1957, pp. 12-7.  Salzman, Gregory. "Brancusi's Woods," unpublished M.A. r e p o r t , London: Courtauld I n s t i t u t e of A r t , May 15, 1972. V i t r a c , Roger. "Constantin B r a n c u s i , " Cahiers d ' A r t , No. 8-9, 1929, pp. 382-396.  

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