Constantin Brancusi (February 19, 1876 - March 16, 1957) is the most famous Romanian sculptor, born in Hobiţa, Gorj, near Tārgu Jiu, where he placed his masterpiece, The Infinite Column.
Brancusi studied art at the Şcoala de Meserii (school of arts and crafts) in Craiova from 1894 to 1898 and at the Şcoala Naţională de Arte Frumoase (national school of fine arts) in Bucharest from 1898 to 1901. Willing to further his education in Paris, he arrived there in 1904 and enrolled in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1905.
As an art student he was influenced by Auguste Rodin, but his style moved beyond naturalist representation to stylized elegant forms. Brancusi was one of the first sculptors to experiment with abstract art (although never, in his own view, moving into "pure abstraction"). His sculptures became progressively smoother and less figurative, until only the barest outline of the original subject was left, venturing even farther away from figurative sculpture than his countryman and contemporary Dimitriu Paciurea.
Brancusi produced a series of sculptures in metal called "Bird in Space". Edward Steichen, a prominent photographer purchased one of these 'birds' and tried to bring it into the United States. Under US Customs code works of art may be imported into the country duty-free. However Customs officers refused to accept the 'bird' as a work of art and assessed a duty of $600 classifying it as a propeller blade. Subsequently a trial overturned the assessment.
Constantin Brancusi lived and worked from 1925 to 1957 in his workshop, located impasse Ronsin, in the 15čme arrondissement of Paris. The original workshop has disappeared and has been rebuilt near the Centre Georges Pompidou.
In the Montparnasse Cemetery can be found statues carved by Brāncuşi for a few fellow artists who committed suicide, the most famous of which is his "Le Baiser."
Constantin Brancusi died on March 16, 1957 and was buried in the Cimetičre du Montparnasse, Paris, France.
His works can be admired in the New York Museum of Modern Art and in the Bucharest National Art Museum (each having impressive collections of Brancusi) as well as in other major museums around the world.
Recently as of 2004, a sculpture by Brancusi sold for US$18.1 million.
"The people who call my work 'abstract' are imbeciles; that which they call 'abstract' is the purest realism, whose reality is not represented by exterior form but by the idea behind it, the essence of the work."