Constantin Brancusi. Endless Column. version I, 1918

Constantin Brancusi

Endless Column

version I, 1918

Medium
Oak
Dimensions
6' 8" x 9 7/8" x 9 5/8" (203.2 x 25.1 x 24.5 cm)
Credit
Gift of Mary Sisler
Object number
645.1983
Copyright
© 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Department
Painting and Sculpture
This work is on view on Floor 5, in a Collection Gallery, with 8 other works online.
Constantin Brancusi has 25 works online.
There are 1,537 sculptures online.

Brancusi made several versions of his Endless Column, this one being the first he fully developed. It consists of a single symmetrical element, a pair of truncated pyramids stuck together at their base, then repeated to produce a continuous rhythmic line. In replicating the same abstract shape, Brancusi emphasized its potential for vertical expansion—it was, he later said, a “column for infinity.” In Brancusi’s work generally the pedestal that traditionally supported sculpture, usually a secondary element, took on a new prominence, often equal to that of the artwork itself: he first used the geometric motif seen here in bases for his sculptures, but gradually realized its value as an independent form. He later repeated the Endless Column on larger scales and in different materials, making it serve as an architectural element and a monument. This version is carved directly in oak, with gouges and cuts in the wood readily apparent, so that it straightforwardly declares its own materials and process of making. Its simplicity, directness, and modularity helped to define the foundational principles of modern abstract sculpture.

Gallery label from Inventing Abstraction, 1910–1925, December 23, 2012–April 15, 2013

This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.
The artist, Paris; sold (through Henri-Pierre Roché) to John Quinn (1870-1924), New York, 1922 [1]; Estate of John Quinn, 1924 [2]; sold to Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) and Henri-Pierre Roché (1879-1959), Paris, 1926 [3]; sold from the Roché Collection to Jon N. Streep, Amsterdam, 1957 [4]; sold to Mary Sisler, Palm Beach, FL [5]; acquired by The Museum of Modern Art, New York (Gift of Mary Sisler), 1983.

[1]Letter Quinn to Brancusi, March 10, 1922, Quinn Memorial Collection, Manuscripts Division, New York Public Library, qtd. in Francis M. Naumann, ed., The Mary and William Sisler Collection, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1984, pp. 50-60. See also Margit Rowell and Ann Temkin, eds., Constantin Brancusi, 1876-1957, exh. cat. Paris: Centre Georges Pompidou, 1995, p. 162.
[2] Included in the exhibition Brancusi, Brummer Gallery, New York, 1926, no. 31 (Column Without End).
[3] Scarlett et Philippe Reliquet, Henri-Pierre Roché: l'enchanteur collectionneur, Paris: Ramsay, 1999, p. 313. On loan to Katherine Dreier, West Redding, CT, 1935-1945; and on loan to The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1945-1956 (Margit Rowell and Ann Temkin, eds., Constantin Brancusi, 1876-1957, p. 162).
[4] Ibid., p. 280, fn. 2. Margit Rowell and Ann Temkin, eds., Constantin Brancusi, 1876-1957, p. 162.
[5] Francis M. Naumann, ed., The Mary and William Sisler Collection, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1984, pp. 50-60.

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