The heads sculpted by Brancusi are not abstract. He considers that everything that overflows, mainly nose and ears, is inappropriate to express the deep reality of a portrait. He gradually reduces these growths to a surface carving up to removing them completely.
Around 1925 he made a wooden bust 55 cm high on the theme of La Jeune Fille Sophistiquée. He takes Nancy Cunard as a model, without telling her. The heiress of the Cunard shipowners, she has an eccentric life that symbolizes the roaring twenties in the Parisian literary and artistic circles. She is sexually liberated and anarchist, and her attires are inspired by Africa.
The almost abstract head is indeed a portrait. Comparing with the photos of the period, we recognize the bulging forehead and the receding chin, and the stiff neck from behind. This disturbing muse always offers in the photos an unpleasant pout that we imagine also through the rare incisions of the sculpture. The pinched bun is an evocation of her signature bunches.
Brancusi made a plaster in 1928 and a unique polished bronze in 1932. This bronze is still installed on the marble base designed by the artist, for a total height of 80 cm. It will be sold at lot 19 A by Christie's in New York on May 15. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
Nancy Cunard discovered many years later that she had served as a model for this artwork. After hesitating in its interpretation as a bust or a torso, she expressed her admiration for the artist.
SOLD for $ 71M including premium