César Baldaccini, known as César, was a French sculptor born in 1921 in Marseille. From 1935 to 1939 he studied drawing at the Ecole Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Marseille winning three awards in 1937 for drawing, architecture and etching before being accepted at the École Nationale Supérieure de Beaux-Arts in 1943 alongside artists Albert Féraud, Daniel David, and Michel Guino.

The human body is a key theme in César’s work to which he regularly returned using various new artistic techniques. He was inspired by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Germaine Richier, Pablo Gargallo and Julio Gonzales. It was the high price of stone that led the artist to turn to plaster and iron in 1947. He would collect found objects such as tubes, birchwood, nails – incorporating them into his works of insects or into the curves of the Vénus de Villetaneuse (1962). He is best know for his famous “compressions,” made after his discovery of a hydraulic press in Gennevilliers. Inspired by Duchamp’s “ready mades”, he used objects of everyday life, allowing him to better reflect a society of consumerism.

In 1957, he moved to a studio in Paris and married Rosine Groult-Baldaccini with whom he had a daughter, Anna. In 1958 he signed a contact with the Parisian gallery Claude Bernard and exhibited his compressed cars at the Salon de Mai. From 1967 he began creating “expansions” executed in polyurethane. His works Le Pouce, Le Centaure (an hommage to Picasso), as well as the creation of trophies – notably the “César” for French cinema – which are among the artist’s most remarquable pieces. In 1961, César joined the “Nouveau Réaliste” group that was founded by the art critic Pierre Restany, and which included artists such as Gérard Deschamps, Niki de Saint Phalle, Arman, Raymond Hains and Yves Klein.

His monumental 3.40 meters long work L’Esturgeon in forged iron was acquired by the Musée National d’Art Moderne in 1955 and enabled him to win the “Prix des Trois Arts” from the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In 2018, a major retrospective of his work was organized by Bernard Blistène at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. The works of César can be found in France and abroad at the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris, The Tate Gallery (London), the Museum of Modern Art (New York) amongst others.