June 18, 2004

Brancusi at the Guggenheim.

The Guggenheim Museum has now opened its exhibition of 35 sculptures of Constantin Brancusi. I went to the museum two weeks ago when I was in New York for a few days, and the lower part of the Wisconsin architect's spiral ramp was closed to visitors. So I got a discount on the admission price--$10 instead of $15--and went in to see a big show of photographs of all different sorts, linked only by their interest in the subject of hands. I also got to peek over the barriers and see the Brancusi sculptures being tucked into the grand niches of the lower spiral. I couldn't take photographs of this, but photography is permitted in the central circle of the ground floor, where they had just painted the platform for "Miracle (Seal I)" and were speed-drying the wet paint with big fans. The NYT, in its article today, particularly loves the way the old seal looks in what I see is officially called the "rotunda" and generally loves the way the way Brancusi fits into the Wisconsin architect's brilliant space:
The first signal of the perfect fit is one of the most endearing of the museum's 11 Brancusis: the white marble "Miracle (Seal I)" centered on the floor of the rotunda. At ground level, this semi-abstract rendition of an alert seal on its broad, circular limestone base conveys discreet jubilation, like a circus with the sound turned off. As you wind upward, the work also suggests an unusually full-bodied sundial or ritual marker, the still point of a sacred site. (Just in time for the summer solstice.)

Here's my photograph:

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