The creative friendship between Brâncuși and the composer Erik Satie

Brâncuși would call Satie – Socrates, and Satie, his younger sculptor friend – Plato.

We recommend that you listen to Erik Satie’s Gymnopedies while you read this article.

Constantin Brâncușii and Erik Satie met in Paris in 1910.

Brâncuși was 34 at the time and was known amongst the circle of artists working in France. He already had shown his works in 1906 at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts and at the Salon d’Automne in Paris and was a friend to Modigliani, Marchel Duchamp and Apoliinaire.

Satie, a French composer and pianist, was 44 and was considered an influential artist of the Parisian avant-garde, after becoming known through his works – Gymnopedies, in 1887.

Erik Satie

Even though they had different personalities, historians say, the two found a common artistic language and a human connection that they enjoyed until the death of Satie, in 1925.

It appears that the wooden sculpture “Socrates”, made by Brâncuși in 1922 and currently owned by MoMA is a form of gratitude for his friend, Erik Satie, who he called Socrates, due to his wisdom.

The sculpture “Socrates” / Source: MoMA

The two would spend a lot of time together, especially in Brâncuși’s workshop on Rue de Montparnasse and they shared a common passion for music. Critics even would say that Satie’s music was influenced by Romanian popular music, which he had heard at an event in Paris.

Brâncuși also had a strong connection to music. During his studies in Bucharest, he played in the choir of the Mavrogheni Church, and in his workshop in Paris he build two violins on which he would play Romanian music. He was friends with the Romanian folklorist, Constantin Brăiloiu, who would bring records of Romanian music to the sculptor, in Paris. Brancusi had, in total, a collection of about 2000 records. He wasn’t, though, a fan of symphonic music and it seems that Satie was the only composer who managed to reach the soul of the Romanian sculptor, through his music.

It’s a fact that their friendship birthed a successful collaboration in the world of Parisian dancing, considered an important step towards contemporary dance. This was a ballet show, to Satie’s music, featuring Lizica Codreanu, the dancer.

Lizica’s costumes, herself close to Brancusi, were created by the sculptor, his mark being obvious, through the geometrical shapes of the dresses.

Lizica Codreanu, photographed by Brâncuși / source: Christie’s

The photograph above was taken by Constantin Brancusi in 1922, in his workshop in Paris, and recently, the famous auction house Christie’s evaluated it’s worth to 50.000 EUR.

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