The truth about the love between Brâncusi and Maria Tănase: “Legends spoil her image a little”

The art historian Doina Lemny, who has been researching the work and life of Constantin Brâncuşi for about 30 years, claims that there are many legends circulating about the great sculptor that slightly spoil his image, such as the one related to his love relationship with Maria Tănase, which in reality it didn't exist.

What was the relationship between Brâncusi and Maria Tănase? PHOTO archive The Truth

According to Doina Lemny, the story of the relationship between Constantin Brâncuşi and Maria Tănase also started from a native of Olt, the lawyer and writer Petre Pandrea, who narrated, as if he had been in the workshop, the meeting between the two that took place in 1937 , when in reality the artist was in Paris in 1939 at the Universal Exhibition, at the Romanian pavilion, where they were photographed.

Legends are beautiful, but sometimes they are harmful. Brâncusi met Maria Tănase only once, in 1939, and it is a document at the Library of the Romanian Academy in which he is photographed with Maria Tănase. Maria Tănase was in 1939 at the Universal Exhibition at the Romanian pavilion, where she also went as we also go to the Romanian Pavilion and they took pictures.

Well, this is where a whole story started, also from an Oltean, from Petre Pandrea, who interpreted and wrote about Maria Tănase's love with Brâncuşi as if he were in the room. It was nothing. I consulted a lot with two historians who published Maria Tănase's biography and confirmed to me that nothing happened.

They only met once. Petre Pandrea says that they fell in love in the Brâncuşi workshop in 1937, at the Universal Exhibition in Paris. However, Maria Tănase was not in Paris in 1937. So the legend was linked from some stories told like this… Of course we like to say that two stars fell in love”. said Doina Lemny, on Monday, at the Brâncusi Center in Craiova, where she held the conference “Brâncusi: foray into the artist's work and lifeon the occasion of the 148th anniversary of the artist's birth.

She claimed that there are no Maria Tănase records in Brâncuşi's record collection. “There are other legends that I try not to destroy, but the legends about Brâncuşi must be put to rest, because they spoil the image of Brâncuşi a little”said Lemny, the author of the book “Brâncuşi, la chose vraie/Brâncuşi, in search of the real thing”who is preparing a biography of the great sculptor.

The three big scandals in which Brâncusi was involved

According to the art critic, Brâncuşi invented modern art by taking over an ancestral method of direct carving in the material without modeling and this gave him the opportunity to enter into a dialogue with the material, but also prevented him from working very quickly.

I published the work “Brâncuşi, la chose vraie/Brâncuşi in search of the true thing” because he always started from what is true, from reality, starting from what Brâncuşi said: that he is connected to the true thing, to “chose vraie”. (…) I wanted to mark some important events in Brâncuşi's life. The year 1907 is a determined year for him. In 1906 he was noticed at a salon in Paris by Auguste Rodin (…) .

Brâncuşi spent 4 months, not one month, in Rodin's workshop as a practitioner. He invented modern art by taking over an ancestral method of carving directly into the material without modeling and this gave him the opportunity to enter into a dialogue with the material and preventing him from working very quickly. Brâncuşi never turned his back on Rodin, because Brâncuşi never turned his back on anyone or the country. He had a lot of orders from the country, but he didn't respond to all of them, not because he got angry, but because he simply didn't have time or inspiration“, said Doina Lemny.

This specified that the works “The Kiss” and “The Earth's Obedience” mark Brâncuşi's break with Rodin and presented the three big scandals in which Brâncuşi was involved: the one related to Mademoiselle Pogany, with which he participated along with five other works in a big exhibition (Armory Show in New York, from 1913, organized by a group of American and French artists) and with which surprised the public and the American press, which mocked the work, being “the laughing stock of all publications“; the one from 1920, from the salon of independents in Paris, with the work Princess X, “which can be a bust of a woman, but also a phallus, depending on how you look at it“, which is why Picasso called the prefect to force Brâncuşi to remove the work from the Salon, but Brâncuşi was supported by about 70 personalities; and the last scandal was related to the Bird in the Air, with which he participated in Brummer in 1926 Gallery, from New York.

Brancusi and his muses

Doina Lemny also spoke about the Romanian food that the great sculptor prepared in Paris, but also about his muses, his delicacy towards women and his love relationships.

Brâncuşi said that he prepares Romanian dinners and everyone who went said “let's go to Brâncuşi to eat Romanian food”. The only Romanian food was polenta, but he made a lamb rib on which he poured garlic sauce. Of course, it was Romanian food. And with the so-called champagne, a sparkling wine. These are anecdotes that enrich Brâncuşi's character, because Brâncuşi was a great actor. The last chapter – his relations with women; I wrote a book, “Brâncuși and his muses”.

It's a project I've had in mind for a long time, but it's very difficult to do because it's very sensitive. I read a lot from this period, the 20s-30s, the Lost Generation. He played the role of a Romanian peasant, but entered this environment of the Lost Generation (…) He left a rich correspondence with all the women who wrote to him, he didn't throw anything away.

He did a love book project with the only woman he wanted to marry. Brâncuşi was a very attractive man, he was not a Hollywood beauty, but he had a special charm, with lively eyes (…). I wanted to show Brâncuşi's modesty, Brâncuşi's secret and delicacy towards women in my book. He was flattered by women, but he did not reject them in the most brutal way. In the word muse we integrated these two notions: the inspiring muse and the protective muse“, Doina Lemny also said.

The director of the Art Museum in Craiova, Emilian Ştefărţă, stated that he has the impression that a series of clichés have been circulating about Brâncuşi for years, based on the principle that “a lie repeated endlessly ends up becoming the truth, a principle affirmed by the ideologist of the Nazi regime, Goebbels and put into practice in any propaganda effort even today, unfortunately“.

That is why there is a need for an authentic and consequently impartial specialist to bring the life and work of the most universal of Romanians into the correct coordinates, if the term universal supports degrees of comparison. The constant presence of Mrs. Doina Lemny at the events related to the Brâncuşi Days that take place every year is absolutely salutary. I hope that if not today, at least in the future some of the obstinately propagated dilemmas will find their clarification“, said Emilian Ştefărţă.