Previously Unknown Brancusi Sculpture in Rotterdam

Press release

Previously Unknown Brancusi Sculpture in Rotterdam
5 February 2014

A previously unknown sculpture by Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957) can be seen in ‘Brancusi, Rosso, Man Ray - Framing Sculpture’, the exhibition opening at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen on Saturday. The museum is especially delighted by the arrival of ‘Tête d’enfant endormie’ (Head of a Sleeping Child, 1906-07). This early sculpture is an important key work in Brancusi’s development of his famous ‘ovoid’.

The exhibition, which features more than forty sculptures by Constantin Brancusi, Medardo Rosso and Man Ray and a hundred vintage photographs taken by them, runs in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen for three months from 8 February. The plaster sculpture was purchased at a sale by a French private collector. Leading expert Friedrich Teja Bach has recently confirmed that it is a version of the ‘head of a sleeping child’. Curators Francesco Stocchi and Peter van der Coelen remarked, ‘It is unusual for a previously unknown work by Brancusi to turn up at a sale. Works by Brancusi are rare and almost all of them are in prominent museum collections like those of the Centre Pompidou, the Tate and MoMA.’

The Road to Abstraction
The child’s head with natural features is in the tradition of the contemporary Impressionists Auguste Rodin and Medardo Rosso. At the same time, this early work is a starting point in Brancusi’s journey towards a more abstract style, which culminated in an entirely smooth oval form, devoid of any facial features. This process can also be seen in the photographs taken by Brancusi himself, in which he pictured ‘Tête d’enfant endormie’ in his studio with ‘Le Nouveau-Ne II’, a work he made ten years later. The exhibition in Rotterdam examines the artistic practices and development of Brancusi, Rosso and Man Ray by showing the sculptures alongside the photographs they took of them.

Painted Bronze
Brancusi’s oeuvre contains a number of recurring subjects, which the artist executed in a variety of materials, including plaster, marble and bronze. This allowed Brancusi to explore various effects, such as the reflection of light. The signed ‘Tête d’enfant endormie’ is an early version in the series. It is unusual that Brancusi painted the plaster, making it look like bronze.

With thanks to
‘Brancusi, Rosso, Man Ray - Framing Sculpture’ was made possible in part by the Turing Foundation (Turing Award 2013), the Boijmans Business Club, the VSBfonds, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds (made possible in part thanks to the Breeman Talle Fonds), the Mondriaan Fonds, AON, The Cultural Agency of the Netherlands on behalf of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, which provided the indemnity guarantee, and the Van Eyck Circle.

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen received the 2013 Turing Award for this exhibition. This is a biennial prize of €450,000 awarded by the Turing Foundation for the best exhibition plan made by a Dutch museum.