Art: Brancusi: Master of Reductions

LEAN, sleek and impersonal as a hood ornament on a Pierce Arrow, Constantin Brancusi's Bird in Space is far better known than its maker. It made headlines in 1926 when the U.S. Customs Bureau refused to let it in the country duty-free, claiming that it was not art but mere metal. In the comic-opera court proceedings that followed, a group of American art lovers won a modest but crucial ruling: that to be art, a work by a recognized sculptor need not bear a striking resemblance to a natural object. Whether or not the...

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