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Pik Piękny Brancusi, n.d.

Pik was one of Gaudier-Brzeska’s many nicknames, given by his partner Sophie. It was derived from the shortening of ‘pickaninny’, a racially insensitive term used to refer to Gaudier’s being often nearer black with dirt than white.

The drawing shows Gaudier’s interest in non-Western art, in particular African tribal masks. It also represents a statement of his admiration for the Constantin Brancusi, who was widely regarded as a leading figure of modern sculpture at the time.

The first two words of the inscription, ‘Pik piękny’, mean  ‘beautiful Pik’ in Polish.

Drawing [HGB 125]


Black crayon on paper

360 x 245 mm

About the artist

Henri Gaudier was born in St. Jean de Braye, near Orleans, in France. He first came to Britain in 1908. He met Sophie Brzeska while working as a student in the evenings at Ste. Genevieve Library in Paris in 1910. In the same year he left France under a cloud of social hostility and settled in England adding the name Brzeska to his own soon after. He worked in isolation until he met Middleton Murray in 1912, whereafter he built up a circle of artists and intellectuals which included Ezra Pound, Wyndham Lewis and T. E. Hulme. He became involved in Pound's and Lewis' Vorticist group, contributing to the two issues of their magazine Blast. Gaudier was killed in action during the First World War in Belgium.