A seminal work from one of the 20th century’s leading sculptors, the Sculptural Ensemble of Constantin Brâncuși at Târgu Jiu (1938), located across two parks in the southern Romanian city and consisting of The Endless Column, The Table of Silence and The Gate of the Kiss, celebrates the soldiers who defended the city during World War I. Cristian Albu, co-head of the 20th and 21st century art department at Christie’s Asia Pacific, tells Richard Lord how it changed his life. I was born in Romania. My mum is Romanian and my dad is Italian. When I was a child, during the (former Romanian dictator Nicolae) Ceaușescu era, I was sent to summer camps in June, July and August, from age seven to 17. I had no affiliation with or sensibility towards art then. In 1985, when I was 10, I went to Târgu Jiu, which is close to where Constantin Brâncuși was born. I stumbled across these three monuments, and it was kind of like lightning striking me. It made me question and it made me wonder. It made me very curious about what art is. Until then, for me, art was very classical – and then suddenly I came to Brâncuși, whose work is a kind of tremor between classicism and modernism. I started questioning what it means to push boundaries. It gave me the chance to dream, to hope and to open my horizons. You see the power of simplicity: the three sculptures are so simple but they have such a grip on people. They make you stand still and marvel. They have so many connotations and possible interpretations: that’s the power. The Endless Column still today is one of the most striking sculptures in the world. It’s a poem to humanity: a portal from the human to the realms of the gods; a vertical bridge between us and what’s above us. Brâncuși pushed me to go to Paris. In 1903, he left Romania and went to Paris to work for (French sculptor Auguste) Rodin. It was fascinating to me when I realised that he only worked for Rodin for two months. His statement when he left had a big impact: “Nothing can grow under big trees.” I thought, “Oh my God, you don’t need to do it the way they teach you.” He also started me going to Venice. I have this love affair with Venice – with indulging myself in the beauty of it. I go to visit 20 or 30 churches, from 8am to 8pm, and I see Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese where they were meant to be, not in a museum; artworks have more impact when they’re in the place they’re supposed to be. Then I went to Angkor Wat, and these days I just chase temples around the world. Brâncuși opened all these possibilities. How A Passage to India changed arts academy director Gillian Choa’s life I took a group to Târgu Jiu in 2018; they were all gallerists, curators and artists. When they saw it, they were speechless. I asked them what other outdoor sculptures had this kind of impact, and they all agreed this was in the top three in the world. They’d never encountered anything like this. It’s one of the lost wonders of the world.