Departmental Events

Reenactment of the Brancusi Trial of 1927-28

Constantine Brancusi, Bird in Space, 1924 (one of 30 bronze and marble versions) Philadelphia Art Museum

10:00 am | 5/4/2023 | 308A Doe Library | Until 12:00 pm | 5/4/2023

HA 185 A  

Prof. M. M. Lovell

Is it a Utensil? a Bird? an Artwork? and why does it matter? Constantine Brancusi v. United States was a landmark case concerning the definition of art–a unique object made by an artist–as distinct from a machined object made in multiples by a mechanic for utilitarian purposes. At stake was a bill for $240 (40% of the sale price) from the U.S. Customs office to the owner, photographer and friend of Brancusi, Edward Steichen. Urged to sue by Marcel Duchamp, who had accompanied this and more than a dozen other sculptures from Paris to New York where they were impounded by the Custom Service, Brancusi went to court. What happened next was important public rumination on the meaning of art in the press and in the courtroom.

Please wear a mask.

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