PARIS – A colossal thumb was erected on Tuesday in front of one of Paris’ most iconic museums while it geared up to host a retrospective exhibit celebrating the work of noted 20th-century sculptor Cesar Baldaccini.
The Centre Georges Pompidou was the site chosen for the huge digit’s hefty installation, in a bid to promote the upcoming display of about 100 of Cesar’s most prominent works.
As shown in the epa images, the massive bronze finger – which sports realistic relief – can be expected to turn a considerable amount of heads: it sticks out like a sore thumb amid the center’s postmodern amalgam of brightly-colored pipes, steel and concrete.
Cesar (Marseille, 1921 – Paris, 1998) began to achieve some renown in the 1940s for his technique of welding together pieces of scrap iron to create statues of insects and nudes, although it was when he used hydraulic crushing machines to make his famous multi-colored “compressions” of crushed cars that he caused a big sensation in the artistic world.
Another enduring element of his legacy is a penchant for gigantic “fingerprints,” including the emblematic “Le Pouce” (“The Thumb”) that towers over the Center of New Industries and Technologies located in La Défense business district to the west of the French capital.
After graduating from Paris’ École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, he hobnobbed with the likes of Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Jean Cocteau or Jean-Paul Sartre.
In the 1960s, Cesar joined the movement known as the Nouveaux Réalistes, an avant-garde group that found inspiration in urban life, modern industry and the world of advertising; it included eminent artists such as Yves Klein, Jean Tinguely and Arman.
Around this time, he cast metalwork aside and started to focus on new materials like plastics, resins, expanded polyurethane and molten crystal.
The Pompidou Center – named after the French president between 1969-74 and designed by star architects Richard Rogers, Renzo Piano and Gianfranco Franchini – is a government-owned postmodern and high-tech multicultural complex visited by millions every year.
Cesar’s retrospective is scheduled to run from Dec. 13 until March 26, 2018, coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the French artist’s death.