Lot 22
  • 22

Constantin Brancusi

bidding is closed


  • Constantin Brancusi
  • Tête (Tête Apollinaire)
  • Plaster
  • Height: 16 in.
  • 40.5 cm


Guillaume Apollinaire, Paris (acquired as a gift from the artist circa 1912)

Mme Jacqueline Apollinaire, Chandon (acquired from the above and until 1967)

Gilbert Boudar, Paris (by descent from the above and until 1999)

Private Collection (sold: Sotheby's, New York, May 10, 2000, lot 24)

Acquired at the above sale by the present owner


Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, Apollinaire, 1969, no. 280 (as dating from circa 1912)


Marie Bengesco, "L'Art en Roumanie," Roumanie en Images, Paris, 1919, illustration of the stone version p. 195 (titled Head Carved into Pebble)

Sidney Geist, "Brancusi Catalogued?," Arts Magazine, New York, January 1964, illustration of the stone version p. 67

Athena Tacha Spear, "A contribution to Brancusi chronology," The Art Bulletin, New York, March 1966, no. 25, cataloguing of the stone version and the plasters

Pierre Cailler, Visages d'hommes célèbres: Guillaume Apollinaire, Geneva, 1965, no. 77, illustrated (titled Tête en pierre)

Sidney Geist, Brancusi, A Study of the Sculpture, New York, 1967, no. 52b, p. 256, catalogued; no. 52, p. 217, the stone version catalogued and illustrated p. 32


Constantin Brancusi 1876-1957: A Retrospective Exhibition (exhibition catalogue), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Art Institute of Chicago, 1969, no. k, illustration of the stone version p. 18


Sidney Geist, Brancusi, the Sculpture and Drawings, New York, 1975, no. 59, p. 177, the stone version catalogued and illustrated p. 50


Pontus Hulten, Natalia Dumitresco and Alexandre Istrati, Brancusi, Paris, 1986, no. 48b, c and d, the plaster catalogued; illustration of the stone version p. 281


Friedrich Teja Bach, Constantin Brancusi, Metamorphosen, Plastischer Form, Cologne, 1987, no. 83, p. 425, catalogued; illustration of the stone version (titled Tête sculptée dans un caillou)


Centre Georges Pompidou, La Collection, L’Atelier Brancusi, Paris, 1997, no. 37, catalogued; illustration of one of the museum plasters p. 145; illustrations of plasters in Brancusi’s studio pp. 15-16 and of the Centre Georges Pompidou installation pp. 20, 74

Catalogue Note

During the period from 1907 to 1908, when Brancusi executed the stone version of this work, the artist’s style changed dramatically.  Abandoning the pathos of works such as Le Supplice I and II, he gradually turned to direct carving in stone and marble.  Responding to African art as well as to archaic and East Asian art, the forms of his sculptures became drastically simplified, with smooth uninflected surfaces. Tête, or Tête Apollinaire, dates from circa 1908, the year in which Brancusi carved the first version of Le Baiser.


Lacking the resources to purchase unblemished blocks of stone or marble, Brancusi frequently worked with found or salvaged material, as appears to be the case with the stone version of this head.  This work is also sometimes known as Tête sculptée dans un caillou.  The stone version of this head, generally dated circa 1908, may have been exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants, 1912 (no. 718) and subsequently in London and Leeds.  This has since disappeared.  However, about 1912 he executed a plaster version for the poet Guillaume Apollinaire, the present work.  Brancusi was a regular at Apollinaire’s ‘Passy' dinners, received autographed copies of his books and attended his funeral at the Église Saint-Thomas in November, 1919.  Two other plaster versions, differing in many details from the Apollinaire version, are in the collection of the Musée d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (Atelier B: Inv. No.s S.35 and S.36)