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The Rediscovery of the Sleeping Muse:
Deutsche Bank Sponsors the Constantin Brancusi Show in New York’s Guggenheim Museum

It was only rediscovered in 2000. The sculptor Constantin Brancusi kept the fourth version of his sculpture Sleeping Muse (1917–18) for himself until the year before his death in 1957, when he gave it as a present to a young woman who regularly visited his Paris studio. For over forty years, the work of art remained hidden among the woman’s personal possessions, finally entering a private American collection in 2003. Now, “Sleeping Muse IV” is being shown for the first time to the American public in a large exhibition.

Contantin Brancusi, Sleeping Muse I, 1909 10.Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., Gift of Joseph H. Hirshorn, 1966. ©2004 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris

With Deutsche Bank as sponsoring partner, New York’s Guggenheim Museum is presenting Constantin Brancusi: The Essence of Things. The exhibition shows over thirty rare sculptures, including the world-famous Kiss from 1908, and documents the essential facets of Brancusi’s work. Enriched by the rediscovery of the Sleeping Muse, the exhibition, which was previously shown with great success in London’s Tate Modern, traces the various stations throughout three decades of his sculptural work and follows Brancusi’s path from the naturalistic representation of the human body to the formal language of pure abstraction. A selection of works will also be shown that emphasize the special status of Brancusi’s wooden sculptures as key positions within the artist’s oeuvre, emphasizing their references to totems and “primitive” African art, but also to Rumanian folk art.

Contantin Brancusi, The Kiss, 1916.
Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950.
©2004 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris

The Rumanian-born Constantin Brancusi (1876–1957) is an extraordinary figure of 20th-century art. The poet Guilliaume Apollinaire described him as an artist of “great refinement” – a description that fits both his work’s spiritual aim and the reduced formal language of his sculptures. Exactly one hundred years ago, Brancusi began his career in Paris and quickly established his reputation as an important Modernist sculptor. He studied briefly with Auguste Rodin, but soon turned his back to naturalism. While many sculptors of his time were creating their sculptures in plaster and having them cast in metal workshops, Brancusi concentrated on working directly with materials like bronze, limestone, and wood. In the process, he used methods scorned as “folk art,” such as woodcarving, in order to approach the material directly. He created forms of subtle equanimity and quietude from the raw material. Many of his greatest and most abstract works evolved from a long process of meditation, repetition, and refinement, demonstrating the artist’s view that “what is real is not the external form but the essence of things.”

The Muse, 1912. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. 85.3317. Constantin Brancusi
©2004 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris

The tie between the artist and the museum looks back over a rich common history. Thus, Thomas Krens, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, remarked on Constantin Brancusi: The Essence of Things : “The Guggenheim has championed the sculpture of Constantin Brancusi for 50 years, and is fortunate to possess 11 key examples of his work. In 1955, while the artist was still alive, the Guggenheim mounted his first retrospective in the museum’s temporary quarters in a townhouse at 1071 Fifth Avenue; this was followed in 1969 with another major Brancusi retrospective in the Frank Lloyd Wright rotunda. Then as now, the Guggenheim’s spiral structure forms the perfect complement to the organic surfaces of Brancusi’s figures, evoking Brancusi’s own statement that ‘architecture is inhabited sculpture.’”

Deutsche Bank is pleased to make Brancusi’s work, and especially his Sleeping Muse IV, accessible to the public through its support of the exhibition. In sponsoring Constantin Brancusi: The Essence of Things, Deutsche Bank honors one of the most important artists of the 20th century. At the same time, the commitment to this exhibition forms the latest highlight of the year-long successful collaboration between the Guggenheim Foundation and Deutsche Bank, which focuses on the support and presentation of exceptional works of art.

Constantin Brancusi: The Essence of Thingsis shown at New Yorks Guggenheim Museum till 19 September 2004

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