From the 1920s to the 1940s, the theme of a bird in flight preoccupied Brancusi. He concentrated on the animals’ movement, rather than their physical attributes. In Bird in Space, the sculptor eliminated wings and feathers, elongated the swell of the body, and reduced the head and beak to a slanted oval plane. Balanced on a slender conical footing, the figure’s upward thrust appears unfettered. This sculpture is part of a series that includes seven marble sculptures and nine bronze casts.
John Quinn, New York (1923–d. 1924; purchased from the artist in December 1923 for Fr 25,000; his estate, from 1924); [Brummer Gallery, New York, until 1926; sold in 1926, for $1,000, to Levy]; Edgar A. Levy, New York (1926–40; sold in 1940 to Matisse); [Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York, 1940–42; sold on December 9, 1942 to Marx]; Samuel and Florene Marx, Chicago (1942–his d. 1964); Florene May Marx, later Mrs. Wolfgang Schoenborn, New York (1964–d. 1995; her bequest to MMA)
New York. Brummer Gallery. "Brancusi," November 17–December 15, 1926, no. 26.
Arts Club of Chicago. "Sculpture and Drawings by Constantin Brancusi," January 4–18, 1927, no. 26.
New York. Pierre Matisse Gallery. "Landmarks in Modern Art," December 30, 1940–January 25, 1941, unnumbered cat.
Paris. Centre Georges Pompidou. "Constantin Brancusi, 1876–1957," April 14–August 21, 1995, no. 68.
Philadelphia Museum of Art. "Constantin Brancusi, 1876–1957," October 8–December 31, 1995, no. 68.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Philippe de Montebello Years: Curators Celebrate Three Decades of Acquisitions," October 24, 2008–February 1, 2009, online catalogue.
John Quinn, 1870–1925: Collection of Paintings, Water Colors, Drawings & Sculpture. Huntington, N.Y., 1926, p. 27, ill. p. 189, as "The Bird".
Athena T. Spear. Brancusi's Birds. New York, 1969, unpaginated, no. 12, pl. 17.
Judith Zilczer. "The Noble Buyer:" John Quinn, Patron of the Avant-Garde. Exh. cat., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution. Washington, 1978, p. 152.
Carol Vogel. "32 Works of Art by Masters Left to Met and the Modern." New York Times (November 25, 1996), pp. A1, C12, ill.
William S. Lieberman in "Recent Acquisitions. A Selection: 1996–1997." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 55 (Fall 1997), p. 75, ill. (color).
Grace Glueck. "A Surprise, and Then a Collection." New York Times (February 28, 1997), p. C31, ill.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New York, 2012, p. 405, ill. (color).
Richard Meyer. "Changing Partners: Richard Meyer on 'Reimagining Modernism' at the Met." Artforum (November 2015), p. 144, ill. (color, installation photo).