The polished bronze head of Blond Negress II sits at eye level atop a multipart base made of carved wood, limestone, and marble elements; all four of Brancusi’s most-used materials. The series to which the sculpture belongs was initiated in 1923 with a white marble version titled White Negress I, allegedly inspired by an African woman Brancusi saw at a colonial fair in Marseilles in 1922. Many artists working in Paris during the 1920s, including Pablo Picasso, borrowed heavily from non-Western art, particularly art from various regions in Africa. Like many of Brancusi’s sculptures,Blond Negress II departs from the realism typical to most conventional Western sculpture of the period. Even so, his work is still a portrait, since it is based on a particular person, though a nameless one.
Gallery label from Constantin Brancusi Sculpture, 2018