Constantin Brancusi is regarded as one of the most important sculptors of the 20th century.
So Christie’s sale of his seminal La muse endormie (Sleeping Muse) on May 15 looks set to be one of the biggest events of this year’s auction calendar.
The work dates to 1913 and is one of six renderings in bronze from an original marble carving.
Brancusi is regarded as the father of modernist sculpture
It’s expected to make around $20m-30m.
Often described as the father of modernist sculpture, Brancusi’s work challenged the establishment in its relentless drive to pare back his subjects to their very essence.
This often proved controversial. A work titled Princess X was famously removed from the Salon in Paris in 1920 due to its resemblance to a penis.
Another, titled Bird in Space, led to a trial on the definition of art after it was held up at US customs in 1926.
While artworks were allowed to enter the US without import taxes, the customs agents decided it didn’t look all that birdlike and logged it as a kitchen implement.
After a court battle, the judge grumpily ruled that “whether or not we are in sympathy with these newer ideas”, art had moved on.
The present lot is among Brancusi’s most iconic works.
Jessica Fertig, Christie’s senior vice president of impressionist and modern art, said: “Brancusi considered each of his La muse endormie bronzes a unique work of art, rather than as part of a uniform edition.
“He therefore oversaw the patination process during casting to ensure variations between every bronze…
“With four examples of Brancusi’s La muse endormie in museum collections, and one of two left in private hands, this is a rare opportunity for collectors to acquire a work of iconic status.”
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