Brâncuși, a Blurry Image for His Secret Son, John Moore
An interview with filmmaker Ionuț Teianu about his upcoming documentary, Searching for the Lost Father
John Constantin Brâncuși Moore is 81 and lives near Paris. A former photographer at the famous cabaret Crazy Horse, he remembers the invitations he used to receive to attend events dedicated to Brâncuși in France and elsewhere in the world, as the sculptor’s only son. His birth certificate, issued in London in 1934, states his last name as “Moore” and his first name as “John Constantin Brâncuși”. Stated mother’s name is Vera Moore, and the father’s name is left blank. John Constantin Brâncuși Moore was never recognized by his famous father, although his mother, English pianist Vera Moore, was one of the greatest loves of Constantin Brâncuși.
Ionuț Teianu, a Romanian filmmaker living in Paris since 1991, has been working for the last three years on his documentary “Searching for the Lost Father,” produced by Tudor Giurgiu. The most touching scene is in Hobița, when John Moore and his sons meet their cousins, Brâncuși’s grandnephews. To be recognized by the art world, but not your own father, remains a great sorrow and mystery to John Moore,” commented Ionuț Teianu. The film of this sorrow will premiere in Cluj, at the Transylvania International Film Festival in 2016.
John Moore never received any inheritance from his famous father, Brâncuși, not even a moral one. But he never wanted that. John doesn’t give interviews and keeps away from the limelight, as his sons do.
Cristina Hermeziu: How was John Constantin Brâncuși Moore affected by this unrecognized descendancy?
Ionuţ Teianu: John was born in 1934. When he was a teenager, his mother, Vera Moore, told him Brâncuși was his father, but that everything should stay between the two of them, a family secret. He was raised with this interdiction. One day his mother wanted to go out. John offered to drive her. He stopped in front of the workshop on rue Ronsin. His mother got down, knocked on the door. Brâncuși opened, he was already a very old man. It was the first time that John saw his father. They looked at each other and that was it. Brâncuși started to close the door. In that instant John grabbed his camera and took a photo. It would be a blurred photo, from the movement. John hasn’t been able to find the negative yet, but he’s still searching for it. I am certain the photo exists, and maybe eventually he’ll recover this blurry image of Brâncuși the father.
How did you meet Brâncuși’s son?
I met John a few years ago, just when he started the search for his father and his roots. It fascinated me to see that someone who was almost 80, a former photographer who worked for 30 years at the “Crazy Horse” in Paris, wanted to discover his father, the person behind the famous artist.
You would think an (unacknowledeged) son of a celebrity would be in the limelight, would seek a certain legal recognition to legitimize at least a moral inheritance, in this case with Brâncuși. What kind of personality does John Constantin Brâncuși Moore have from this perspective?
John accepted this situation, the illegitimacy. He was never interested in money, and thus never pursued an inheritance when Brâncuși died in 1957, nor when his mother, Vera, died in 1997. Nevertheless, it was very painful to him and I think the pain was so deep, he never wanted to analyze it or reactivate it. Only later, during the “twilight years,” as they say, it started preoccupying him. He started to look through his mother’s papers and found Vera and Brâncuși’s correspondence. He found photos kept by Vera. She had a “Prometheus” given to her by Brâncuși before he cast it in bronze. Basically, after a lifetime of silence and acceptance of the secret, John Constantin Brâncuși Moore started in his old age to walk in his father’s footsteps. He went to the cemetery in Montparnasse, to the workshop in front of the Pompidou Center, and even to Romania. There is a very touching moment in the film, when they meet the relatives in Hobița, the instant when John and his youngest son, who is now 37, without knowing the language, realize they are family.
How does he evoke his mother Vera Moore and her acceptance, out of love for Brâncuși, of his denial of paternity?
John doesn’t judge his mother or his father, nor does he fully understand either of them. He wants to elucidate the story for himself now that nothing can be changed. John discovered his father as a human being, with all of his contradictions. His two boys, Brâncuși’s grandchildren, keep their distance. They are interested, and they help their father follow in the footsteps of their illustrious grandfather, but they do it for John’s sake. The documentary I have been working on the last three years will be feature length, 80-90 minutes long. The premiere is scheduled for Transylvania International Film Festival in 2016. It’s touching to see an elderly person who doesn’t desire to be in the media and who is interested in looking for his roots, and especially looking to understand his father, although he was not recognized by him.
Translated from the Romanian by Elena and Paul Richard.