There are many names that have and continue to inspire me. As a make-up artist, you need to find your own style and you can only do so by studying art history and learning from the best.  One of the modern artists whom I admire and I’m very fond of is the Romanian- French sculptor Constantin Brancusi. It might seem odd to many to mix “Brancusi” and “make-up” in the same phrase, but his perfection of the form and fascination for the abstraction are elements that I study and try to apply through in my own make-up projects.

Brancusi was a sculptor, though he is most refereed as a visionary. His works are made in marble, wood, and bronze and are so simple, smooth, pure, minimalist, organic, and perfectly shaped that don’t seem to belong into this  world. It’s not just sculptures. It’s the essence of things.

In the early 20th century, Paris was so famous, so extraordinary, and so attractive to artists and writers from all over the world that somebody actually thought to offer the Parisian air as a gift to one of the wealthiest men in the world. That’s right! Marcel Duchamp gave Walter Arensberg (his patron living in the US) an empty pharmacy bottle as a present saying that it’s filled with air from Paris. The magnate appreciated the present so much that in 1950, with the rest of the Louise and Walter Arensberg collection of contemporary art, an authentic re-creation of the bottle entered the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Constantin Brancusi at two different ages

Constantin Brancusi at 29 (left) and at 46 (right)

At the beginning of the century, many enthusiastic artists flocked to the capital city of modernism in the search of inspiration, fame and recognition: Pablo Picasso came to Paris from Barcelona, Diego Rivera from Mexico, Amadeo Modigliani from Italy, Marc Chagall from Russia, Jacques Lipchitz from Lithuania, and Constantin Brancusi from Romania. Just to name a few.

The story goes as follows: Constantin Brancusi was born in the village of Hobitza, Romania, in 1876. In May 1904, after mastering the rules of 19th-century sculpture at the Bucharest School of Fine Arts, he decides to walk from Romania to Paris. He hiked through Austria and Germany, reaching Paris on July 14 – Bastille Day. Legend or not, his ambition and motivation are inspiring.

Brancusi's Workshop

Brancusi’s Studio. Photograph by Eduard Jean Steichen

Brancusi’s atelier in the Impasse Ronsin in Montparnasse was both his workshop and his home. His studio was a refuge for himself and his art; it was his lair. He invited friends into this creative universe (Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Fernand Léger, Tristan Tzara, Henri Matisse, James Joyce, Amedeo Modigliani, Henri Rousseau), to eat Romanian food and to listen to folk music and jazz from speakers hidden between the sculptures.

One of his works that I really love and intrigues me is Mademoiselle Pogany. You should know that when Brancusi coined an idea, he replicated it many times by using several different materials. Mlle Pogany was created in both in marble (1912) and bronze with black patina on a limestone base (1913).

Mademoiselle Pogany is an abstract portrait of one of Brancusi’s friend, the Hungarian-Romanian painter Margit Pogany. The sculpture was exhibited in New York in 1913 at the Armony Show- the first large exhibition of modern art in America. It sat alongside prices by other contemporary artists like Van Gogh, Monet, Matisse, Picasso and Cézanne.

Brancusi said at one point “simplicity is complexity resolved” and I couldn’t agree more (the same principle applies in make-up also). Nothing says simplicity like the sculpture Mademoiselle Pogany: her distinguishing features are extremely large and her arms blend together in a graceful movement upwards. She is mysterious, sensual, kind and delicate, and her huger eyes tell you that she is knowledgeable but she doesn’t want to reveal what she may know. She inhabits a place that you, the viewer, has yet to reach.

Clearly, through Mademoiselle Pogany Brancusi explores the nature of the feminine spirit. She is the simplicity defined, the essence of things. She is THE MUSE.

Don’t look for obscure formulas or mystery in my work. It is pure joy that I offer you. Look at my sculptures until you see them. Those closest to God have seen them.

Constantin Brancusi