CONSTANTIN ANTONOVICI
(1911-2002)

Born in Neamt, Romania on February 18, 1911, Constantin Antonovici graduated from the Fine Arts Academy in Iasi, Romania, in 1939. In 1940, he studied in Zagreb with the famous Croatian sculptor Ivan Mestrovici, until his master was arrested by the Italian fascists. Antonovici himself survived the imprisonment in Germany for his refusal to fight on the side of the Nazis, and after the war; he studied in Vienna with Professor Fritz Behn. During 1945 and 1947, Constantin Antonovici studied woodcarving in Tirol, then traveled to Italy and finally to Paris where he met Brancusi, with whom he worked until 1951. Constantin Antonovici was the recipient of the only certificate Constantin Brancusi ever offered to a fellow sculptor. Even though artists more famous, such as Isamu Noguchi, Henry Moore, Jean Arp and Modigliani, created in Paris and collaborated with Brancusi, no one worked closer with the master. Antonovici impressed Brancusi with his talent and his passion for sculpture.

Thirty-five years his junior, Antonovici captured the attention and the respect of the master with his talent, industriousness and perseverance. It has been said that Brancusi often gave up on famous sculptors because he did not consider them worthy. Antonovici, however, impressed him not only with the variety of the materials he used: wood, bronze, aluminum, marble, stone, plastic; but also with his artistic lucidity, and his ability to stylize and simplify to the fundamentals, allowing himself to discover the essential features defining a shape. With its capacity to see at nighttime, just like the sculptor during his process of creation, the owl was the central motif of Antonovici's work, and his obsession.

Antonovici moved to the United States in 1953, where he was lent a studio by the cathedral St. John the Divine, sculpting in order to support himself. During this period he created mostly ecumenical works, such as the marble lid of the coffin of Bishop William Manning, a stone cross on the Amsterdam Avenue side of the cathedral, 30 m. from the street level, and portraits.

In his studio, Antonovici left approximately 100 sculptures, from the fifties, sixties, and seventies, which had won numerous competitions. During his lifetime, he participated in countless exhibitions in France, Italy, Romania and the US, and showed his work in private collections as well. He was a member of the National Society of Literature and The Arts, International Platform Association and the National Sculptural Society and received an honorary medal of the Academy of Brazil. His bust of Dwight Eisenhower is part of the White House collection. Other classical busts carved by him include Voltaire, Ludwig van Beethoven, Charles de Gaulle, Bishop William Manning, Ciprian Porumbescu (a Romanian composer), Brancusi, Homer, Moses, Mefistofel, Dali, Paulette. His work was reviewed and praised by numerous art critics including Alain Bosquet, Georges Boudaille, Michelle Seurier, Fritz Spitzer, Donelson F. Hoops and Ralph Fabri.

Constantin Antonovici died on Feb. 5th, 2002, in New York City. His work is in the permanent collection of the Kreeger Museum, Washington DC. A catalogue raissonee of his work is being elaborated now.

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