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  • Writer's pictureKate Woodman

L'Atelier Brancusi

Updated: Feb 16, 2020

Great stone fireplace with Rooster (le Coq), Bird in Flight (l'Oiseau dans l'espace) and Seal (le Phoque)

Aujourd’hui j’ai visité l’Atelier de Constantin Brancusi, qui est parti du Musée National de l’Art Moderne. L’atelier est reconstitué par Renzo Piano en face de Centre Pompidou. Quand Brancusi est mort, il lègue tout ce que contient son atelier (œuvres achevées, ébauches, meubles, outils, bibliothèque, discothèque, photographies…) à l’État français, sous réserve que celui-ci s’engage à le reconstituer tel qu’il se présentera à l’époque de sa mort. Pendant 40 ans, Brancusi a eu son atelier dans l’impasse Ronsin à 15ème arrondissement. Il a cru que ses oeuvres devraient être ensemble dans l’atelier où ils ont fait. Pour lui, l’emplacement des oeuvres l’unes à d’autres était essential de les regarder et comprendre. Pendant la majeure partie de sa vie, on a pu voir ses oeuvres seulement dans l’atelier. S’il a vendu une oeuvre, il l’a remplacé avec un moulage de l’oeuvre.

Today I finally visited the Atelier (studio) of Constantine Brancusi. The atelier was reconstructed by the architect Renzo Piano opposite the Pompidou Center. When Brancusi died in 1957, he left the contents of his studio (everything, including his unfinished works, sketches, furniture, tools, books, music and photographs) to the state, with the stipulation that the National Museum of Modern Art committed to reconstitute it exactly as it was on the date of his death. For 40 years, Brancusi rented, first one and eventually five, studio spaces on a small street in the 15th arrondissement, Impasse Ronsin. He believed that his work should be displayed in the space where it was created. He was preoccupied by the relation between his sculptures and the space around them, and was constantly changing their arrangement in the studio until he was satisfied that they were optimally displayed in terms of presentation and understanding. For much of his life, he would only show his work in the studio and, when a piece was sold, he would replace it with a plaster cast so that the presentation of his work would not be disturbed.

PIano's building is unassuming and partially underground

Blonde Negress (la Négresse blonde II) (front) and Eileen Lane (left)

Rooster, Princess X (right)


L’atelier consiste de 4 espaces, qui sont grandes et lumineuses. Outre des oeuvres d’art, on voit les outils de travail et des photographies (il a aimé beaucoup de prendre des photos de ses œuvres). Il y a aussi un petit expo des photos d’atelier original et du processus de le reconstituer par l’architecte Piano. Je passe devant cet atelier presque tous les jours et souvent j’ai pensé que je le dois visiter. Aujourd’hui je le fait et je suis bien contente de l’avoir fait.

L’Atelier Brancusi consists of 4 rooms, all large with high ceilings and full of light. Other than the sculptures, one sees also his work tools, photographic equipment and photographs of his work, which he enjoyed taking. There is also a small exhibit of photographs of the original atelier on Impasse Ronsin and of the process by which architect Piano reconstructed the rooms. I have passed by l’Atelier Brancusi almost every day for the past year and have often thought that I must visit it. Today I finally did and am very pleased to have done so. The Atelier is open most afternoons and admission is free. Just another Paris jewel and a free one at that!


Box cameras

Doorway to another studio

Same doorway (carved by the artist) from the other side with Rooster, Bird in Flight and head unknown

For one who loves color, I was captivated by the relative lack of color in this space and found myself totally drawn in by the elegance and simplicity of it all....the rooms, the sculpture and Brancusi's orchestration....brilliant!

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