An Amazing Story : Pipes and Tobaccos Magazine

An Amazing Story


Accomplished artists, quirky art

Cubism in briar

by Ben Rapaport


The tobacco pipe is one of the most iconic images of the surrealist movement. Many artists have focused  on  this  subject,  portraits  of a  man  holding  or  smoking  a  pipe. A few of the more notable paintings variously  titled  Man  with  a  Pipe  or Man Smoking a Pipe were executed by Čapek, Cézanne, Courbet, Magritte, Matisse, Metzinger, Miró, Seurat and Van Gogh. And just about everyone should know of Magritte’s much-discussed surrealist painting featuring the phrase Ceci n’est pas une pipe, a trompe  l’oeil  image  of  a  pipe  …  but no one is holding or smoking it. As one observer remarked: “It portrays a briar pipe so meticulously that it might serve as a tobacconist’s trademark.”

What if an artist of the past had crafted a briar pipe, either as art or as utilitarian object, that eventually became celebrated after his death? I know of two: Constantin Brâncuși and Marcel Duchamp. Renowned sculptor, painter and   photographer   Brâncuși   (1876–1957)  was  born  in  Hobița,  Romania. He studied art at the Romanian School of Arts and Crafts and at the national School of Fine Arts. Eager to continue his education, he went to Paris in 1904, enrolled  in  l’École  des  Beaux-Arts  in 1905, apprenticed briefly with sculptor Auguste Rodin, became a French citizen in 1952, and remained there for the rest of his life. His Parisian friends included Duchamp, Léger, Matisse, Modigliani, Picasso, Man Ray and Rousseau.

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Category: An Amazing Story, Fall 2016

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