Skip to content

Geist, Sidney

    Image Credit: Wikipedia

    Full Name: Geist, Sidney

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1914

    Place Born: Paterson, Passaic, NJ, USA

    Home Country/ies: United States

    Subject Area(s): Modern (style or period) and sculpture (visual works)


    Sculptor; wrote catalogue raisonné on Constantine Brancusi. Geist studied at Stephen’s College, and then at the Art Students League under William Zorach of the Art Students League and Ossip Zadkin. He taught (studio) sculpture at the Pratt Institute between 1961-65, and then founding and directing the New York Studio School in 1964, before becoming instructor at Vassar College, 1968-81. In 1967 he published Brancusi: A Study of the Sculpture. The book was favorably received; reviewers applauded Geist’s use of his sculptor’s sensibilities to explain Brancusi’s work, in addition to a general account of Brancusi’s philosophies and life. Geist was a guest curator of the Brancusi retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago betwee 1969 and 1970. His book Constantin Brancusi, 1876-1957, was the catalog for that exhibition. He was awarded a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship for 1975-76. Vermont Studio School, instructor in sculpture, 1987. He was given a 1992 retrospective exhibition of his sculpture. His later work on Brancusi included Brancusi: The Sculpture and the Drawings (1975) a catalogue raisonné of the artist’s work, and Brancusi: The Kiss (1978). In 1988, he wrote an analytical work on Paul Cézanne, Interpreting Cezanne, explaining that artist’s paintings in terms of hidden images Geist believed Cézanne intentionally incorporated into them. Geist contended that “cryptomorphs” representing particular individuals and verbal and visual puns were the key to Cézanne interpretation. Art historians received these theories coolly (Wollheim, Flam) when not outright decrying them (Elkins). Among the art historians who were influenced by Geist writing was Albert E. Elsen.

    Selected Bibliography

    Constantin Brancusi, 1876-1957: a Retrospective Exhibition. New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 1969; Brancusi: The Kiss. New York: Harper & Row, 1978; Interpreting Cézanne. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988; Brancusi: the Sculpture and Drawings. New York: H. N. Abrams, 1975; Brancusi: a Study of the Sculpture. New York: Grossman, 1968.


    “Elsen, Albert.” Contemporary Authors Online; Interpreting Cézanne. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988 (cover flap biography); Elkins, James. Why Are Our Pictures Puzzles? Routledge, 1999.


    "Geist, Sidney." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

    More Resources

    Search for materials by & about this art historian: