In the Bird in Space works, Brâncuși concentrated not on the physical attributes of the bird but on its movement. The bird's wings and feathers are eliminated, the swell of the body is elongated, and the head and beak are reduced to a slanted oval plane.
Seven of the sculptures in the series are made of marble, while the other nine were cast in bronze. The first and best known of the series is housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, while two bronze casts (1928 and c.1941) reside in that city's Museum of Modern Art. Two versions of the sculpture, one bronze (1924) and one marble (1923–1924), are housed in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. A 1926 bronze is on display at the Seattle Art Museum. Two more bronze casts (1925–1926 and 1927) are on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and a 1931 bronze cast is housed at the Norton Simon Museum of Art in Pasadena, California. Another bronze of unknown casting date resides in the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, Italy, and the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra owns two marbles, both c.1931-1936, one white and one black.
In 1926-27, Bird in Space was the cause of a court battle due to the piece being taxed by U.S. Customs. In October 1926 Bird in Space, along with 19 other Brâncuși sculptures, arrived in New York harbor aboard the steamship Paris. While works of art are not subject to custom duties, the customs officials refused to believe that the tall, thin piece of polished bronze was art and so imposed the tariff for manufactured metal objects, 40% of the sale price or about $230 (over $2800 in 2010 U.S. dollars). Marcel Duchamp (who accompanied the sculptures from... [continues]
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