BRANCUSI, Constantin

Hobitza, Romania 1876 - Paris 1957

Nouveau-né [I]

Newborn [I]


white marble


Dimensions (HxWxD): 5 34 x 8 14 x 5 78 in.

Acc. No.: 1950-134-10

Credit Line: The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950

Photo credit: Philadelphia Museum of Art


  • 1950, The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection


  • Museum's website, 16 March 2015
  • 1995 Temkin
    Ann Temkin, in Constantin Brancusi 1876-1957, 1995, p.136 (see Comment below)


  • Museum's website, 16 March 2015:
    Ann Temkin, from Constantin Brancusi 1876-1957, 1995, p.136:
    Brancusi's long sequence of sculptures on the theme of an infant's head began with the realistic portrayals such as Head of a Sleeping Child (Private Collection) and became more conceptual with Prometheus (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1950-134-5). With the wooden Head of a Child (Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou) the head itself became the object, and all traces of the neck below or hair above were eliminated. The curving central ridge of the Newborn echoes that of the wooden Head of a Child, but the mouth is much more radically stylized: the ovoid is sharply sliced off into a flat oval plane. Only a small curl of marble remains at the bottom to suggest a chin. The oversized opening indicates a baby's wide-open mouth emitting a noisy wail, thus lending affectionate wit to the elegant form.
    With it's evocation of either an egg or a cell, Newborn is a metaphor for birth as well as a portrayal of an infant's head. The theme also points to the newborn quality of Brancusi's art and this particularly bold sculpture. The sculptor's obsession with the moment of origin reveals his aspirations toward originality, perhaps the preeminent claim to merit among the modernist vanguard. The serial motifs that characterize Brancusi's work prove his originality by testing it: the seeming repetitiveness of his sculptures only demonstrates more compellingly the individual distinction of each.
    Brancusi cast one bronze version of this work, in slightly modified form, now in the Museum of Modern Art, New York.