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A KISS FOR US: CONSTANTIN BRANCUSI 1876–1957

Last month CONSTANTIN BRANCUSI 1876–1957 opened in the United States at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Writing from Paris, where he viewed the show’s inaugural installation at the Centre Georges Pompidou, JOHN BERGER discovers in The Kiss another, more worldly side to the master of ideal form.

THANK YOU FOR THE PAINTING, Marisa, I’ve put glass over it. The painted man with the leap given him by the earth! (I’ve come to prefer drawing men to women, for their bodies somehow have more need to be drawn since an ideal crumbled.) Your painted man, and around him the horizons, and beside him the real, not painted, lichen which has resisted drought and every extreme of temperature for millions of years. Primeval lichen, petals, feathers—you keep them between pages and you take one out, like a ticket from a purse, whenever you paint a journey.

Me? I’m standing in the biggest ever Brancusi exhibition in Paris. No lichen, no feathers, no itches here. Almost everything is polished and pure.

I have the impression, Marisa, that just after his death in 1957 I visited his studio in the Impasse Ronsiu. I was with a friend—perhaps with Zadkine, who was also a friend of his. I remember the name

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