César (César Baldaccini) (1921 - 1998)

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  • César (César Baldaccini) (1921 - 1998)

    Portrait de Compression

    Collage of newspapers, crayon
    96 x 75.6 cm (37 ³/₄ x 29 ³/₄ inches)
    Signed lower right, César 
    Executed in 1985

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César Baldaccini – better known simply as César – was a French sculptor revered for his radical transformations of everyday materials. Today, he is considered one of the most influential European sculptural artists, with his work housed in international collections such as Tate Britain, London; National Galleries Scotland; Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice and The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Born in France to Italian parents, César’s love of art began at a young age and he secured a place at the highly renowned École des Beaux-Arts in his early 20s. When he moved to Paris in 1943, César lived above the studio of Alberto Giacometti; it was during this time that his career began to take form. Struggling to afford supplies, César found inspiration from unconventional materials, making sculptures out of objects he collected from the streets. Compounding these materials, he created what became known as his ‘compressions’. These dense and tactile works catapulted scrap metal into the art world, redefining the boundaries of sculpture.

César found himself at the forefront of the New Realism movement - a group of artists who prioritised raw and unorthodox materials. Using a hydraulic press, César was able to assert greater control over his creations, producing unique and distinctive forms. The subject of his work ranged from disused car parts to human anatomy and continued to evolve throughout his lucrative career. The sculptor became head of the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1970 and went on to receive the Rodin Prize in 1988.

With major Fashion brands such as Louis Vuitton and Hermès collaborating with César and citing him as a major influence, his work has continued to gather momentum within the art sphere. In 2018, César was posthumously honoured with a retrospective at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.
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