Brancusi's images of individual sculptures show him experimenting with reflected light, shadow, glare, viewing angle, scale, background color, and even multiple exposures to heighten our awareness of texture, form, and drama. Several of the rough wooden sculptures are lit with harsh direct light, turning the three dimensional objects into flat two dimensional shapes in dark black, echoed by multiple shadows on nearby walls. Sculptures made of brass/bronze and other shiny metals capture brilliant flashes of brightness and energy, or reflect artist's tripod in hidden self-portraits. Ovoid marble objects become soft and silky, or turn and pose amid lengthy shadows. An upwards view of one of his famous Endless Columns turns the bumpy totem into an angular thrust skyward. And Brancusi's series of thin, elongated vertical birds are transformed by all these visual effects in turn: black birds with white highlights, white birds with multiple black shadows, and golden birds with radiant glints.
While these photographs were certainly successful in increasing (or reinforcing) my appreciation for Brancusi's talents with a chisel or an axe, I think the pictures definitively show that Brancusi was equally adept at controlling mood and emphasis with his camera. This is a well-edited gathering of deceptively complicated vintage photographs, well worth the time spent to savor their intricacies.
Bruce Silverstein Gallery
535 West 24th Street
New York, NY 10011