Sidney Geist

  • BRANCUSI + MONDRIAN: A SUM, A SUMMA

    IN SIDNEY JANIS’ INTRODUCTION to the catalogue “Brancusi + Mondrian” we learn that in the early 1950s John Senior, Jr., had the idea to show his Mondrian paintings surrounding a Bird in Space by Brancusi. In my 1968 study of the sculptor1 I began a meditation on his oeuvre with the idea that it was comparable to Mondrian’s. Ideas, ideas . . . In the event, it took the initiative and imagination of, not a museum of modern art, but a marchand de tableaux to bring these artists together in representations of such scope as to be significant—17 Brancusi sculptures, 17 Mondrian paintings, and a brace

  • Brancusi: The Centrality of the Gate

    CERTAIN ASPECTS OF BRANCUSI’S three-part ensemble at Tîrgu Jiu, Romania, recently the subject of a sensitive reading by the sculptor William Tucker,1 do not present themselves to the eye of the beholder, namely the history of the project and the development of its separate parts. My examination of the Gate of the Kiss will necessarily be more extended than that of the Table of Silence and Endless Column, since little concerning these has been added to the record,2 whereas much has been learned concerning the Gate. The latter is, graphically, the most complex of the three structures, the one on

  • The Birds

    WHAT A GREAT IDEA: a study of the Birds of Brancusi! I wish I’d had it. There they are, twenty-seven of them in marble and bronze, progressing from a relatively naturalistic image to a design of such poetry as to seem to go beyond sculpture; changing from a stable object of unimpressive dimensions to a breathtaking jet of dazzling material balanced on a slender footing; spread out in time from the end of La Belle Epoque to the beginning of the Cold War.

    Well, André Chastel had the idea first, it seems, as early as 1961 when he gave it to Mrs. Spear who was studying in Paris. Brancusi’s Birds1

  • A Memoir of Zadkine

    WHEN ZADKINE ENTERED THE sculpture studio at the Grande Chaumière to give his weekly critique, all work stopped. It would have taken more courage than anyone there had to have remained at his modeling stand while the master held forth, in a performance that expected and commanded attention, that engaged us individually and collectively, never anticipating interruption, its self-confidence bolstered by the evident adulation of the female students. (I seem to remember that a young South American woman took notes.) After exclaiming with gusto on the beauty of the model in general and on her special

  • Brancusi

    THE HISTORY OF MODERN ART presents the rare spectacle of two oeuvres, parallel to each other in time, whose evolution is marked by an exemplary continuity and reasonableness—those of Brancusi and Mondrian. But while Brancusi’s work after 1907 is sharply different from his production of the previous few years, Mondrian’s development shows no strong break or leap of style; long in extent, fine in grain, it is the model of the idea of artistic evolution.

    The biographies of these artists, as distinct from their abilities, shed some light on their difference in this respect. Mondrian was born into an

  • On Criticism

    “A few quite simple lessons:

    That statements on art make the same sense that we expect to find in statements about any other subject.

    That critics be knowledgeable, sensitive, honest, literate and artistic.

    That critics know what they are talking about, and talk only about what they know. This is not to say that there are no problems, difficulties, even mysteries in the realm of art. There are many. But it is one thing to admit their existence, and another to write as if they did not exist.

    That it be possible in reading criticism, to distinguish between statements of facts and other