Brancusi's Studio, ca. 1920
Edward J. Steichen (American, born Luxembourg, 1879–1973)
Gelatin silver print; 9 5/8 x 7 5/8 in. (24.4 x 19.4 cm)
Gift of Grace M. Mayer, 1992 (1992.5149)
Steichen and Brancusi met at Rodin's studio and became lifelong friends. This view of a corner of Brancusi's studio on the impasse Roncin shows several identifiable works, including Cup (1917) and Endless Column (1918). The photograph's centerpiece is the elegant polished bronze Golden Bird (1919), which soars above the other forms. Distinct from Brancusi's studio photographs—subjective meditations on his own creations—Steichen's view is more orchestrated, geometric, and objective. Golden Bird is centered, the light modulated, and the constellation of masses carefully balanced in the space defined by the camera. Just as Brancusi's sculpture is radically different from Rodin's, Steichen's photograph of his studio is decidedly modern in comparison to his Romantic presentation of Rodin's studio just over a decade earlier. Such carefully orchestrated compositions, printed on gelatin silver paper without darkroom manipulation, would be characteristic of the formal studio photographs Steichen made for Vanity Fair and Vogue beginning in 1923.