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Brancusi and African Art

THE IMPACT OF AFRICAN ART on European artists at the beginning of the century is common knowledge.1 However, Brancusi’s debt to African sculpture has been insufficiently studied.2 Though it is not possible to state that Brancusi knew particular African sculptures, it is clear that he was indeed influenced, if not precisely by the works illustrated, then by related ones similar in style.

Brancusi arrived in Paris from Rumania in 1904.3 His “African-looking” works fall roughly within the period of 1910 to 1920. It is not clear when he first saw African art, but it is known that he introduced Modigliani to it.4 The friendship between the two artists developed from 1909 to 1911 when Modigliani lived near Brancusi on the Left Bank.5 Brancusi was also a friend of a great number of avant-garde artists and writers such as Matisse, Léger, Apollinaire, Picasso, Gonzáles, Lipchitz, and Cocteau,

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