Constantin Brancusi at work on Endless Column in his studio at 8 impasse Ronsin, Paris, c. 1924.
Brancusi’s daily activities over the forty years from 1916 were enclosed within the studio complex at impasse Ronsin. Even the address suggests that he had gone to ground in a cul-de-sac, and it seems appropriate that he was described, in 1927, as ‘One on the inside of things, who stands on the ground an equal among rocks, trees, people, beasts and plants, never above or apart from them’. However, he must have been a noisy neighbour, constantly sawing, hammering, chipping and polishing. Huge beams of wood and blocks of stone arriving by strenuous means into the tight, steep courtyard. There must have been regular deliveries to the foundry and the reciprocal arrival of plaster and materials for armatures. Within this curious place, which he preferred to a projected (but never built) studio, he conceived works tempered to its scale. He tested and dramatised them, and the studio itself, through his carefully conceived and controlled photographs, which fixed momentary juxtapositions and mediated his work for his public. They were his calling cards to the world, given to friends and interested collectors who wandered into his seclusion.