César Baldaccini, known as César (1921-1998), Le Pouce [The Thumb], polished, waxed and varnished bronze, 1990
Le Pouce is a fragment of reality, a symbol of practice and manual work. Caesar plays on the rupture of scale, giving this anatomical fragment the dimensions of a monumental sculpture. Caesar's Le Pouce is always raised towards the sky: a sign of assent, of implacable optimism, but also of vanity.
If there are several examples of Caesar's famous thumb, the one at La Défense, a technical feat of enlarged moulding, is the most imposing with its 12 metres high and its weight of 18 tons. Le Pouce is present in many institutional collections as well as in public spaces around the world: Seoul, Washington and Koblenz.
The original model, a reproduction of the artist's thumb made in 1965 on the occasion of an exhibition on the theme of the hand, measured "only" 40 cm and was sold for 1.2 million euros at a prestige sale during the International Contemporary Art Fair (FIAC).
Born in Marseilles into a family of Italian origin, César Baldaccini (commonly known by his first name) began sculpting from his earliest childhood using scrap metal scraps that he had salvaged. After studying at the École des Beaux-Arts in Marseille and then in Paris (where he would become a teacher), he made his first welds but became particularly known for his highly expressive compressions, not devoid of humour.
He created until his death in 1998, pursuing a disconcerting and protean artwork, calling himself, with a certain irony, a radical artist.
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