Brancusi (1876 - 1957) is seen as the pioneer of modern sculpture. Born in rural Romania, he grew up in a area of Romania, the Carpathian mountains, which is know for its rich tradition of woodcarving. He started his art studies in Bucharest, went by foot to Munich and later by foot to Paris to enter the Ecole de Beaux-Arts in 1905. Brancusi was different of his peers, his journey to Paris made a legend of him. Brancusi was an outsider, wearing Romanian peasant clothing, playing and listening to folk music. He embraced the myth created around him.
Clean geometric lines, Romanian folk art and non-European cultures. Brancusi got inspired by the primitive exotic painting of Gaugin, the cubist painting of Pablo Picasso and other modern artists which he got to know when living and working in Paris. After he left the studio of August Rodin Brancusi started to make works which would change the face of modern sculpture. A much more reductive style, he would carve directly in the material, suggesting a sincere relationship with the material he used. Brancusi made many versions of each sculpture, simplifying forms to geometrical objects.
Not only the works themselves were important, he considered the bases as important as his sculptures and crafted them with much care. Visitors would notice a deep spiritual atmosphere in his studio.
His studio had the look of the peasant houses from his native region. He was carving all his own furniture, a big slab of rock would be his table and a primitive fireplace, similar to those found in the traditional Romanian houses, would heat the space. Romanian folklore would continue to be a source of inspiration for his works.
Brancusi was composing his works in bronze, marble, stone and wood. The choice of materials was important to him, as the surface of the material was a part of the expression he was using to communicate his ideas, which were not always easy for people to understand. All details mattered.
A few years ago I visited the memorial house of Brancusi in Hobita, Romania. It is a traditional oak wooden house with 3 small rooms: bedroom, kitchen and storage room. The interior design of 1850 was preserved.
At the end of his life Brancusi was no longer making new sculptures but was moving them around in his studio. It is important to have a balance between all the objects in the same room. Lets take a look how we can translate the esthetic of Brancusi in our interior and find the same relaxing atmosphere in our home.
We can start with a very neutral color palet as a base. A lot of white, beige and grey tones for this relaxing ambiance. Wood to bring in some warmth, this is needed as if not your home could look to monotone and cold. Natural materials: heavy linen and cotton, wool and felted wool. Natural oak, grayish wood all with a rough touch so you can see and feel the fibres. Imperfections will add a lot of character. And you will need if you want to combine with stone which can feel and look much colder.
We go for a modern, contemporary interior and start selecting the materials. Take care they are natural because it will have much more personality. In this quite minimalist setting we are going to add than objects with a lot of character. This can be an object where you feel it is handmade. Imagine in a very modern kitchen some big hand carved spoon, they will look incredible modern, It is always depending on the combination you make and how they bring balance between them, or bring one of them more on the foreground.
We can easily integrate this esthetic in each room in the house. When you start building or decorating your new home always start thinking that the base, which is the floor and wall materials, should stay for a long time as you are not going to do some renovations each 2 years. So the natural stones in the bathroom and kitchen will be a perfect choice. And don’t rush to have all the house ready at once. A home is not a showroom, you life in the space and it will be filled with your personality little by little. You will find those special pieces, give it time. In the bedroom you can add a heavy woven blanket in wool. A small wooden table or a stool can very well function as a night stand. And maybe you are handy and can even make some small objets yourself.
It is good to think sometimes “out of the box” to create a very personal interior. In a minimalist setting it is important to have some special pieces, all depending on your budget you can find them in time. An artwork, a sculpture, or a piece of furniture with some a-typical features, a very special fabric.
Think of Brancusi, he was always seen as a traveling hermit, an old soul from Easter Europe who was carrying with him the essence of modernity.
While working this week on my new blog post I received a newsletter from the Belgian Embassy announcing an exhibition of Constantin Brancusi in Brussels. So if you are travelling this autumn to Belgium you can go and see his amazing works at Bozar, starting form 2 October.