Lot 84
  • 84

Constantin Brancusi

50,000 - 80,000 USD
197,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Constantin Brancusi
  • Gelatin silver print
  • 15 x 12 inches
circa 1922


Ehlers Caudill Gallery, Chicago, 1995


San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Degas to Picasso: Painters, Sculptors and the Camera, October 1999 - January 2000; and traveling thereafter to the Dallas Museum of Art, February - May 2000, and Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, June - September 2000

Catalogue Note

The present print of Constantin Brancusi’s famously white studio at 8 Impasse Ronsin in Montparnasse, where he lived and worked from 1916 to 1927, is unusual for its inclusion of his Samoyed, Polaire.  In this image, Polaire animates the composition and serves as a counterpoint to Brancusi’s sculptures, which are in various stages of completion.  Brancusi acquired Polaire in 1921, not long after his failed attempt at keeping one of Gabrielle Buffet-Picabia’s white roosters in the studio.  By all accounts, theirs was a close relationship—Polaire served as guard dog for the premises, companion to the artist, and as an artistic accoutrement.  She was a faithful friend, accompanying Brancusi to cafés and to movie theatres.  She would accept no food except from him and would threaten women when they visited the studio (Jon Wood, ‘Brancusi’s White Studio,’ The Studio Reader: On the Space of Artists, p. 278). 

Brancusi’s initial foray into photography around 1917 began as documentation of his sculptural output, with the goal of providing important New York-based collector John Quinn with images of new work.  While Brancusi was familiar with photography, having made photographs as early as 1905, he called on his friend Man Ray for help in improving his technique and for recommendations regarding equipment.  The practice evolved quickly into an exploration of another artistic medium. 

Brancusi’s studio was at the core of his identity as an artist.  He believed that he was the only person suited to document his works and wanted them to be viewed in context, only within the studio space where they had been created.  Brancusi's placement of the sculptures was deliberate, designed to convey both the autonomy of each work and its harmony as part of the whole.  At his death, Brancusi bequeathed his studio, its contents, and more than 1,000 photographs to the French government.  It has since been rebuilt outside the Pompidou Centre.

As of this writing no other known prints of this image have been located.