Constantin Brâncuși (February 19, 1876 – March 16, 1957) was a Romanian sculptor, painter and photographer who made his career in France. Considered a pioneer of modernism, one of the most influential sculptors of the 20th-century, Brâncuși is called the patriarch of modern sculpture. As a child he displayed an aptitude for carving wooden farm tools. Formal studies took him first to Bucharest, then to Munich, then to the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1905 to 1907. His art emphasizes clean geometrical lines that balance forms inherent in his materials with the symbolic allusions of representational art. Brâncuși sought inspiration in non-European cultures as a source of primitive exoticism, as did Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso, André Derain and others. But other influences emerge from Romanian folk art traceable through Byzantine and Dionysian traditions.
The subject of a sleeping head occupied Brancusi for almost twenty years. In conceiving and executing Sleeping Muse, the sculptor eschewed drama and detail in favor of reducing ideas to fundamental forms and simplified details. He rendered the essence of languor in the prostrate position of the head, weighed down by inertia, resting peacefully. This bronze is one of four casts made in 1910 from a marble of the previous year for which Baroness Renée Irana Franchon was the model.
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