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08280_1950-134-4

BRANCUSI, Constantin

Hobitza, Romania 1876 - Paris 1957

Le Baiser

The Kiss

1916

limestone

group

Dimensions (HxWxD): 23 x 13 14 x 10 in.

Acc. No.: 1950-134-4

Credit Line: The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950

Photo credit: Philadelphia Museum of Art


Provenance

  • 1950, The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection

Bibliography

  • See Museum's website for following extracts, accessed 16 March 2015
  • 1995 Temkin
    Ann Temkin, in Constantin Brancusi 1876-1957, 1995, p.142 (see in Comment)
  • 1995 Temkin
    Ann Temkin in Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections, 1995, p. 314
  • 2000 PMA
    Twentieth Century Painting and Sculpture in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2000, p. 44
  • 2007 PMA
    Masterpieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Impressionism and Modern Art, 2007, p. 164

Comment

  • Museum's website, 16 March 2015:
    Ann Temkin, from Constantin Brancusi 1876-1957 (1995), p.142:
    This version of The Kiss is one of the few works that Brancusi made in response to a specific commission. It was requested by John Quinn, Brancusi's patron in New York, who admired the small plaster version of The Kiss in the collection of the artist Walter Pach. Pach, who was serving as Quinn's intermediary with Brancusi, wrote the sculptor that Quinn wondered about "the original version" of The Kiss (quoted in Hulten, Pontus, Natalia Dumitresco, and Alexandre Istrati. Brancusi. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1987, p. 107). A subsequent letter on March 3, 1916, confirmed Quinn's order for a new stone version, presumably after Brancusi replied that the "original" stone version, which had been given to Victor Popp in 1910, was unavailable.
    This sculpture was long assumed to date from either 1908 or 1912, based on the dates published in the catalogues of exhibitions during the 1920s. As a work of 1916, it represents not a first effort at direct carving, as manifest in The Kiss of 1907-8, but a sophisticated adaptation of it. This sculpture, the artist's fourth stone version of The Kiss, is the most geometric of all Brancusi's variations on the theme. The tall block of stone is vertically separated down the center, the woman distinguished from the man by her rounded breast and the long hair falling down her back. But otherwise the forms are fused: the couple's arms and hands are flattened almost to fit into the block itself, and the two hairlines are unified into a single arc. The two eyes, each half-seen in profile, combine to make one cyclopean, almond-shaped eye. These reductions suggest a new awareness of Cubist sculpture as much as a debt to the primitivist carving of Paul Gauguin or André Derain.
    When Pach wrote to Brancusi that Quinn would like a base for The Kiss, Brancusi replied that it should be placed "just as it is, on something separate; for any kind of arrangement will have the look of an amputation" (October 4, 1916, Quinn Collection, NYPL). Louise and Walter Arensberg, who later owned the work, installed The Kiss on Brancusi's Bench (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1950-134-23) alongside six stone works from their collection of pre-Columbian art.