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To What Extent Did Primitive Art Inspire

Brancusi Essay, Research Paper Expressionism is a much less important current in sculpture than in painting, since the ethnographic sculpture by the Fauves might have evoked a strong response among sculptors Only one important sculptor shared in this rediscovery Brancusi, a Rumanian, moved to Paris to study advanced art around 1904 But he was more interested in the formal simplicity and coherence of primitive carvings than in their savage expressiveness; this is evidenced in The Kiss which was executed in 1909 Brancusi had a ‘genius of ommission’ – to Brancusi a monument is an upright slab, symmetrical and immobile – a permanent marker like the styles of the ancients and he disturbed the basic shape as little as possible The Embracing Lovers are more primeval than primitive They are a timeless symbol of generations – innocent and anonoymous

Brancusi Essay, Research Paper

Expressionism is a much less important current in sculpture than in painting, since the ethnographic sculpture by the Fauves might have evoked a strong response among sculptors Only one important sculptor shared in this rediscovery Brancusi, a Rumanian, moved to Paris to study advanced art around 1904 But he was more interested in the formal simplicity and coherence of primitive carvings than in their savage expressiveness; this is evidenced in The Kiss which was executed in 1909 Brancusi had a ‘genius of ommission’ – to Brancusi a monument is an upright slab, symmetrical and immobile – a permanent marker like the styles of the ancients and he disturbed the basic shape as little as possible The Embracing Lovers are more primeval than primitive They are a timeless symbol of generations – innocent and anonoymous

Brancusi’s ‘primevalism’ was the starting point of a sculptural tradition that still continues today

Until now, African pottery, wooden carvings, and textiles had been viewed essentially as handicraft because, it was argued, the religious, military, sexual, or decorative functions of the works suggested that they had not been created as art, to be appreciated for their own sake It was the magical and mystical quality of the “Primitive” African art that inspired Brancusi; and the quality that counted most

Because the appreciation of art in African sub-cultures is closely related to its use in everyday life, there is a distinct contrast with the Western concern with conservation/preservation and appreciation of art within a home, museum, or gallery setting This is one of the primary reasons that many objects of African art have been placed within the categories of artifacts, handicrafts, folk art, or primitive art In addition, it is essential to understand African art as it is appreciated, conceived, executed, and used within the African culture from which it originated In this respect, the artist has been recognized–even though he or she may remain anonymous –and the objects he has designed and created have become valuable- in terms of their importance as they reflect the culture from which they are derived and the way in which they are valued and appreciated by their respective culture–and credible works of art It is this approach to African artistic production that will be used in interpreting and drawing conclusions about the musical instruments described in these entries Objects of African art, previously referred to as primitive, functional artifacts, handicrafts, or tourist arts are now gaining the recognition and prestige that they have long deserved and are becoming more commonly referred to simply as art According to a recent New York Times article describing an exhibit concerned with bridging the gap between western and non-western art:

Around 1910 Brancusi started to concentrate on two basic forms of such uncompromising simplicityie the Newborn or The Beginning of the World; and soaring vertical ‘bird’ motif, ie Bird in Space He was fascinated by the antithesis of life as potential and as kinetic energy

We are not likely to understand the art of the past if we are ignorant of the aims it had to serve The further we go back in history, the more definite but also the more strange are the aims which art was supposed to serve The same applies if we leave towns and cities and go to the peasants, or better still, if we leave our civilized countries and travel to the peoples whose ways of life still resember the conditions in which our remote ancestors lived We call these people ‘primitives’ not because they are simpler than we are – their processes of thought are often more complicated than ours – but because they are closer to the state from which all mankind once emerged Among these primitives, there is no difference between building and image-making as far as usefulness is concerned Their huts are there to shelter them from rain, wind and sunshine and the spirits which produce them; images are made to protect them against other powers which are to them as real as the forces of nature Pictures and statues, in other words are used to work magic

It is difficult to understand these strange beginnings of art unless one can enter the mind of the primitive peoples and find out what kind of experience it is which makes them think of pictures, not as something nice to look at, but as something powerful to use I do not think it is too difficult to recapture this feeling All that is necessary is the will to be honest with ourselves and see whether we, too, do not retain something ‘primitive’ in us

One Egyptian word for sculptor was actually ‘He-who-keeps-alive’ The Egyptians held the belief that the preservation of the body was not enough If the likeness of the king was also preserved, it was doubly sure that he would continue to exist forever So they ordered sculptors to chisel the kings head out of hard, imperishable granite, and put it in the tomb where no one saw it, there to work its spell and to help his soul to keep alive in and through the image, so too their artists created art for eternity I believe it was in this same vein that Brancusi wrote

“I do not aspire to be in fashion

For what is in fashion, goes out of fashion

If, on the contrary, your work is contested today,

it doesn’t matter For when it is finally understood,

it will be for eternity”

- Constantin Brancusi, 1876-1957 -

Brancusi’s early works were influenced by Rodin and by the impressionists, but after 1908 he rapidly evolved his characteristic personal style With the basic intention of laying bare the underlying nature of an image, he abandoned the use of live models and adapted a simplified, streamlined style In describing the evolution of his art, he said: “One arrives at simplicity as one approaches the real meaning of things” Two simple organic shapes predominate in his work: the egg and the elongated cylinder An example of the former is Sleeping Muse , in which the figure is represented simply as a stylized ovoid head Bird in Space is a long, graceful cylinder of polished metal, its lines reminiscent of the curve of a bird’s wing Here Brancusi refined the organic form to the point where it became almost totally abstract, a conceptual rather than an actual representation The artist also worked in more geometric shapes

By concentrating on pure form, Brancusi freed sculpture from its 19th-century pictorialism and prepared the way for 20th-century abstract sculptors

After Michelangelo, sculptors wanted to make grandiose sculpture They only succeeded in making grandiloquent sculpture In the nineteenth century, the situation of sculpture was desperate Rodin arrived and transformed everything Thanks to him, man became again the measure, the module after which the sculpture was organized Thanks to him sculpture became human again in its dimensions, in its signification, in its content Rodin’s influence was and remains immense While he was still alive, Brancusi showed at the Beaux Arts National of which he was president, certain friends and protectors, among them the queen [of Rumania], tried, without consulting him, to have Brancusi admitted to his studio Rodin accepted Brancusi as a student But Brancusi refused because he felt that nothing grows under large trees Brancusi’s friends were angry, ignorant as they were of Rodin’s reaction When Rodin learned of Brancusi’s decision, he simply said, “Basically he’s right He is as stubborn as I am” Rodin had a modest attitude toward his art When he finished his Balzac, which remains the incontestable point of departure for modern sculpture, he declared, “It is now that I would like to begin work”

Objects of African art, previously referred to as primitive, functional artifacts, handicrafts, or tourist arts are now gaining the recognition and prestige that they have long deserved and are becoming more commonly referred to simply as art According to a recent New York Times article describing an exhibit concerned with bridging the gap between western and non-western art:

Until now, African pottery, wooden carvings, and textiles had been viewed essentially as handicraft because, it was argued, the religious, military, sexual, or decorative functions of the works suggested that they had not been created as art, to be appreciated for their own sake Even after “primitive” African art inspired Brancusi earlier this century, it was its magical and mystical quality that counted most But at the Royal Academy, objects made by African hands are separated from [being judged solely by] their cultural context and can be judged simply as art1

Because the appreciation of art in African sub-cultures is closely related to its use in everyday life or in outdoor activity, there is a distinct contrast with the Western concern with conservation/preservation and appreciation of art within a home, museum, or gallery setting This is one of the primary reasons that many objects of African art have been placed within the categories of artifacts, handicrafts, folk art, or primitive art In addition, it is essential to understand African art as it is appreciated, conceived, executed, and used within the African culture from which it originated In this respect, the artist has been recognized–even though he or she may remain anonymous –and the objects he has designed and created have become valuable– in terms of their importance as they reflect the culture from which they are derived and the way in which they are valued and appreciated by their respective culture–and credible works of art

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