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Brancusi in the Bushes of Brentwood

May 5, 2011

The Brentwood Alcove

After moving to Los Angeles 5 and a half years ago, I was little flummoxed about continuing my pedestrian lifestyle. There are indeed vast tracts of roadways which are unadorned by sidewalks at all. And sidewalks abruptly end sometimes without notice or recourse.

A Little Bit Closer Now.

This has not deterred me in the slightest. It has been said that my artistic oeuvre in its entirety is a journal of a pedestrian’s point of view. I walk almost every evening as a mental segue between the day and some creative efforts. And in my vehicular wanderings around Los Angeles, I have been known to park and take a stroll around a new neighborhood so as to really discover its character, its urban rhythm if you will.

A couple of months back, I took a breather on a bench (don’t get me started on the scarcity of those in this town!) and my eye was drawn to a strange configuration on the trunk of a palm tree. Certainly nothing anyone would notice but there I was making synaptic leaps to Brancusi. As I mentioned in a previous blog on Alex Katz, there seems to be this leitmotif of life imitating art for me. It might be a symptom of some saturation point of aesthetic experience. I’m not here to pass judgement or to diagnose. I’m here to share.

Two Pairs of Lips in Dialogue in a classic over the shoulder shot.

Two Pairs of Lips in Dialogue in a classic over the shoulder shot.

So here’s the rather nondescript scene. An alcove of sorts. Anyone in LA might recognize the mini courtyard as the former Dutton’s Bookshop sight. Over the years there were countless readings by poets and authors alike here in this very spot.  And then there is this tree. Again, nothing there, right…well, there they are: in silhouette the exaggerated lips of Constatine Brancusi‘s Negresse. I knew what I recognized immediately but actually had a devilish time finding a reproduction of the sculpture as I had forgotten the title. I also, and this is galling me, can’t recall when and where I first saw the piece in person. It’s most likely that I have seen both the bronze and marble versions, but which first, I can’t recall. As with most sculptors, the opportunity to see work is not as common as their painterly breathern. But Brancusi has always been an amazing touchstone to my artistic heart. The lessons I learned from studying his work are too many to count.

Reviewing the images a quick Google search provided me also made me think of the huge debt Jeff Koons has to the work of this Romanian Master.

Ah well, I will always have my little Brentwood Alcove to bring Brancusi to life for me.

Mario M. Muller, LA, May 5th, 2011

Debt of Gratitude

Constantin Brancusi, The Blond Negress, 1926, Bronze with Marble and Limestone Base, SFMoMA

Constantin Brancusi, White Negress II, 1928, White Marble, Black Marble, Stone and Wood, Art Institute of Chicago

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