César Baldaccini French 1921 –1998
César Baldaccini better known simply as César, was a noted French Sculptor. He was a French sculptor, born in 1921 of Italian parents. After getting a scholarship, César studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Marseilles (1935-9) he went on to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris (1943-8). 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 started experimenting with this in 1952, having his first one-man exhibition was at the Galerie Lucien Durand,Paris, 1954and his first compression was exhibited in 1958.
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 crushed three 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.
In 1965, he began to work with plastics, first with plastic moulds of human imprints, then from 1966 by pouring expanded polyurethane, 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 included sculptures made out of molten crystal.