Cesar
Baldaccini

César Baldaccini, known simply as César, revolutionised modern sculpture with his radical compressions, expansions, and fantastic bestiary. If you’re seeking César prints and editions for sale or wish to sell, request a complimentary valuation and explore our network's most in-demand pieces.

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Biography

Born in 1921 in Marseille, France, to Italian parents, César exhibited a natural inclination towards art from an early age. His formative years were marked by a vibrant blend of cultures, which would later inform the style of his work. Pursuing his passion, César moved to Paris and enrolled at the École des Beaux-Arts in 1943, where he honed his craft and began to sculpt in the classical tradition, his early works reflecting a deep understanding of form and material.

César's artistic development took a radical turn in the 1950s when he began experimenting with welded metal scraps, creating his iconic beasts— dynamic sculptures that resonated with the post-war ethos of reconstruction and innovation. It was in this period that César's style evolved from traditional representation to the avant-garde, as he embraced the philosophy that art could arise from the appropriation and transformation of everyday objects.

In the 1960s, César became associated with the Nouveau Réalisme movement, alongside artists like Yves Klein and Jean Tinguely, who sought fresh perspectives on reality through art. César's contributions were characterised by his compressions —sculptures made from crushed cars and discarded metal, compressed into dense, compact forms. These works challenged the viewer's perception of space and material, and earned César critical acclaim for their powerful commentary on consumerism and the industrial age.

Another significant innovation by César were his expansions—vividly coloured sculptures made from polyurethane foam, which expanded and solidified into unpredictable, organic shapes. These playful and irreverent pieces further cemented César's reputation as a master of unconventional materials and techniques.

César's work was celebrated in numerous major exhibitions throughout his career. His legacy is preserved in the collections of leading institutions, such as the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Upon his death in 1998, César left behind a profound impact on contemporary art. His daring approach to sculpture continues to inspire new generations of artists, and his work remains a testament to the power of innovation and the enduring relevance of Nouveau Réalisme in the narrative of art history.


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