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Brancusi and Audubon

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  • Pages: 3
  • Word count: 628
  • Category: Bird

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Perhaps the most striking resemblance between Brancusi’s Bird in Space and Audubon’s Wild Turkey is a beautiful flowing sweeping curve that is very evident on both the sculpture and the painting. The sculpture, which does not truly resemble a bird but is an abstract work of art, has a fluid line as it curves gracefully in a gentle semi-arc to the right of the viewer’s eye. The same curve is evident is the brilliant colored painting of the wild turkey with its body facing right but the long neck in a curve with the head facing opposite of the direction of the body. It is a natural line in both the sculpture and the painting but that is where the physical resemblance stops and the only remaining common factor is the theme that they are both depictions of birds.

John James Audubon is noted as one of the finest recorders of ornithology, or the study of birds. His vivid paintings of different species of birds are considered treasures by ornithologists but by the art world itself. He spent many hours and days traveling among the land and the people who lived there in order to study and view the birds that populated that particular area. He made several attempts to paint the wild turkey cock before he finally captured just the right image that suited him. It was to be paired with his rendition of the turkey hen but the painting is so spectacular by itself that it has become one of the most favored of Audubon’s works.

“With all this easy amplitude his painting of birds steadily went forward. Finally he painted the wild turkey cock. Many times he had attempted to portray this great bird, so magnificent in his iridescence, so stately of stride.” (Rourke 202)

There is no surrealism to Audubon’s painting, just painstaking explicit detail to each color and feather of the bird. A depiction of a regal bird that fascinated the artist himself and brought to life a fowl that many had never seen up that close. Audubon was a painter of nature and each minute stroke would leave the viewer only the desire to admire and appreciate.

“As a child I always dreamed that I was flying through the trees and in the sky. I have kept the memory of that dream and, for forty-five years, I make birds. It is not the bird that I wish to express but its gift, its flight, its elan.” (Danto 1)

The above words are those of Constatine Brancusi as he tried to explain his interpretation of birds in his sculptures. Bird in Space was felt to so little resemble an actual bird that Brancusi was involved in a law suit with the United States Customs Office that failed to acknowledge it as a work of art but classified it as a metal kitchen utensil Brancusi won.. It appears in realism as a graceful metal flue on a marble stand but in appreciation of its abstract beauty, the sculpture is an elegant in design as the flight of any natural bird’s flight. The gleaming brass exterior expresses a delicacy that a true lover of art can not fail to delight in. Brancusi chose the use of surrealism to fashion his artistic views but like Audubon he loved the beauty and simplicity of Nature’s design.

Art is art but there are so many different forms of visual art from paintings to sculptures and many varying stages in-between but these two pieces are wonderful examples of the appreciation of nature and beauty.

Works Cited

Danto, Arthur C., “Constantin Brancusi”. The Nation January 22, 1996

Rourke, Constance, Audubon, New York: Harcourt Brace and Company, 1936

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