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César Baldaccini, known as "César" is a sculptor and visual artist born in Marseille in 1921.
He first worked in his parents' bar before attending the Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Marseille in 1935 and then, in 1943, the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris, where he had a studio in a former brothel on Rue de l'Echaudé. César met Pablo Picasso and Germaine Richier and lived in the same house as Alberto Giacometti.
From 1947, he worked with plaster and iron. In 1952, in Provence, he made his first attempts at welding and his first sculptures in scrap metal. The series of "Irons" and "Imaginary Animals" was born, consisting of more than 300 constructions between 1949 and 1966.
In 1960, the sculptor discovered a giant press of a new type at a suburban scrap metal dealer's, capable of instantly producing one-ton packages of metal. The three compressions of cars executed according to this process, presented in Paris in 1960, made scandal. Subtle combination of the choice and the chance, the Compression "Ricard" belongs to the period of the directed compressions, whose formal aspect is determined by the mode of loading of the press and by the selection of materials according to their plastic qualities.
Combining an invitation to exhibit with the discovery of the pantographic enlargement process, the Human Prints marked a turning point for César, who presented his enlarged Thumb in 1965, followed by a 6-meter high bronze version, which became iconic, in 1988 for the Seoul Olympics.
In 1998, César died in Paris at the age of 77. Shortly before his death, the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume devoted an important retrospective to him. His works are collected by museums and individuals around the world.
We only have a few works by this artist at the moment. Interested in seeing more?
Superior School of Fine Arts of Marseille
During his lifetime, despite his fame, César remained snubbed by the art world for a long time3 and was not exhibited until twenty years after his death by the Pompidou Center in Paris.