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Golden Bird

Slide your eyes along this tall, thin sculpture from top to bottom. What do you see? Bright, shiny bronze. A pointed tip. A sleekly rounded shape, tapering at the end. And then things change. The forms become geometric (triangles and circles), and the materials are stone and wood instead of bronze.

What do you think you are looking at? Does it seem familiar? The artist who made this sculpture didn’t include many details. He wanted above all to show the spirit of the figure.

Constantin Brancusi
Romanian, 1876-1957
Golden Bird, about 1919
Bronze; limestone and wood base
Minneapolis Institute of Arts
© 2000 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Although known as a pioneer of abstract sculpture, Brancusi began his career in a traditional way.
With simplified, abstract forms, Brancusi captured a subject’s essence.
Brancusi explored the subject of a bird in flight in a series of artworks.

Listen Up!: The Philadelphia Museum of Art has the largest Brancusi collection in the United States. Search its collection to see more works by the artist. Once you find Bird in Space (Yellow Bird), click on the image for more information. You can even hear an audio recording of the judge’s ruling in Brancusi’s court case!  

Abstract Animals: In his sculpture, Brancusi included only a few, abstracted details that suggest a bird. What abstracted features would you include for a horse? A monkey? A lion? Create an abstract sculpture of an animal of your choice.  

Artful Adjectives: Brainstorm six adjectives that describe Golden Bird. Then use those words to write a poem about the sculpture.  

For the Birds: Use the Art Collector feature of ArtsConnectEd to view more works of art that show birds. Reorganize the collection according to the type of bird you see. Click here to access the collection. Click here to learn more about Art Collector.  

See the Real Thing: Brancusi’s Golden Bird can be found in gallery 371 at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Come for a visit to see the real sculpture!