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Golden Bird

The Kiss, made in 1908, is considered one of Brancusi’s first abstract sculptures. For decades the artist revisited this subject, which became one of his signature themes.
Constantin Brancusi,The Kiss, 1916, limestone, © Philadelphia Museum of Art: The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950

Brancusi often combined different materials in his sculptures’ bases. For Golden Bird he used both wood and stone.


key idea
With simplified, abstract forms, Brancusi captured a subject’s essence.

At first glance, Golden Bird doesn’t look like much of a bird. It has no feathers or wings. The bright, brassy yellow isn’t a color you’d expect to see on a bird. And if you could reach out and touch the sculpture it would feel cool and sleek, not soft like feathers.

But take a moment to close your eyes and imagine a bird soaring straight up into the air. Then look at the sculpture again. Can you see a bird now? Picture the narrow upper part as a neck and the very top as an open beak, open perhaps in song. Does the shiny, slim form give you a sense of the bird’s speed as it bursts into the sky? And could the long, tapered end possibly be the tail feathers? Keep looking, and the bird will appear.

Brancusi wasn’t concerned with showing every little detail in his sculptures. He wanted, above all, to capture his subject’s essential form—in this case, the sleek, rounded form of a bird in flight. He also liked to make the base of a sculpture as important as the subject itself. In the base of Golden Bird, Brancusi’s early love of woodworking shows up in his work as an artist.