usually called César
was a noted French
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...
Sculpture is three-dimensional artwork created by shaping or combining hard materials—typically stone such as marble—or metal, glass, or wood. Softer materials can also be used, such as clay, textiles, plastics, polymers and softer metals...
César was at the forefront of the Nouveau Réalisme movement with his radical compressions (compacted automobiles, discarded metal, or rubbish), expansions (polyurethane foam sculptures), and fantastic representations of animals and insects.
He was a French sculptor, born in 1921 of Italian parents in the working class neighbourhood of la Belle-de-Mai in Marseilles. His father was a cooper
Traditionally, a cooper is someone who makes wooden staved vessels of a conical form, of greater length than breadth, bound together with hoops and possessing flat ends or heads...
and bar owner. His full name was César Baldaccini, but is usually known as César. After studying at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Marseilles (1935-9) he went on to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris
The École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-arts is the distinguished National School of Fine Arts in Paris, France.The École des Beaux-arts is made up of a vast complex of buildings located at 14 rue Bonaparte, between the quai Malaquais and the rue Bonaparte, in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Près,...
(1943-8). He began making sculptures by welding together pieces of scrap metal in 1952 and first made his reputation with solid welded sculptures of insects, various kinds of animals, nudes, etc.
His first one-man exhibition at the Galerie Lucien Durand, Paris, 1954.
His early work used soldered and welded metal as well as junk materials, and by 1960 César was considered one of France's leading sculptors. In that year on a visit to a scrap merchant in search of metal, he saw a hydraulic crushing machine in operation, and decided to experiment with it in his sculpture. He astonished his followers by showing three crushed cars at a Paris exhibition. It was for these 'Compressions' that César became renowned. César selected particular cars for crushing, mixing elements from differently coloured vehicles. In this way he could control the surface pattern and colour scheme of the piece.
Later the same year joined the Nouveaux Réalistes (New Realists) with Arman
Arman was a French-born American artist. Born Armand Pierre Fernandez in Nice, France, Arman is a painter who moved from using the objects as paintbrushes to using them as the painting itself...
, Klein, Raysse, Tinguely, Pierre Restany
Pierre Restany , was an internationally known French art critic and cultural philosopher.Restany was born in Amélie-les-Bains-Palalda, Pyrénées-Orientales, and spent his childhood in Casablanca. On returning to France in 1949 he attended the Lycée Henri-IV before studying at universities in France,...
and others who found their inspiration in urban life.
In 1965, he started to work with plastics, first with plastic moulds of human imprints, then from 1966 by pouring expanded polyurethane
A polyurethane is any polymer composed of a chain of organic units joined by carbamate links. Polyurethane polymers are formed through step-growth polymerization, by reacting a monomer with another monomer in the presence of a catalyst.Polyurethanes are...
which was allowed to expand and solidify. He gave up making welded metal sculpture in 1966 and organised a series of Happenings from 1967-1970 in which he produced expansions in the presence of an audience. His later works also include sculptures made out of molten crystal.
In 1995, he was asked to paint a Mclaren F1 GTR that participated at the famous 24 hour Le Mans. The car Chassis GTR5 is still in the livery created by Cesar and represents the only 'Art Car" on the iconic Mclaren.
He is the creator of the César du cinéma
The César Award is the national film award of France, first given out in 1975. The nominations are selected by the members of the Académie des arts et techniques du cinéma....
trophy which awards the best in French cinema
The Cinema of France comprises the art of film and creative movies made within the nation of France or by French filmmakers abroad.France is the birthplace of cinema and was responsible for many of its early significant contributions. Several important cinematic movements, including the Nouvelle...
He was made Chevalier
(Knight) of the Légion d'honneur
The Legion of Honour, or in full the National Order of the Legion of Honour is a French order established by Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul of the Consulat which succeeded to the First Republic, on 19 May 1802...
on 22 January 1978 and promoted Officier
(Officer) in 1993.
He married Rosine and had one daughter Anna.
He died in Paris in December 1998. Following his death there was an extended dispute over his will between his widow and daughter on the one hand and Stéphanie Busuttil, his companion at the time of his death on the other.
His works on display
One can see examples of his work at a number of places such as le Centre national d'art et de culture Georges-Pompidou (Bas relief
, le Diable
), at the Musée d'art moderne de la Ville de Paris (Facel Véga), his grave at the Cemetery of Montparnasse, on the esplanade de La Défense
La Défense is a major business district of the Paris aire urbaine. With a population of 20,000, it is centered in an orbital motorway straddling the Hauts-de-Seine département municipalities of Nanterre, Courbevoie and Puteaux...
), in Marseille on the avenue de Hambourg near the MAC and the Bonneveine Centre (Le Pouce Géant
- Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p. 99
- Le Monde
Le Monde is a French daily evening newspaper owned by La Vie-Le Monde Group and edited in Paris. It is one of two French newspapers of record, and has generally been well respected since its first edition under founder Hubert Beuve-Méry on 19 December 1944...
, 12 January 2008