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Many of César’s sculptures from the late 1950s are of winged figures. In The Man of Saint-Denis the wings come to dwarf the human body, and transform it into an insect-like hybrid. The plates of scrap metal welded into broad sheets lend an armoured aggression to the body. This sculpture was partly inspired by the famous French ‘bird man’ Léo Valentin, who carried out a series of parachute drops wearing wings made of canvas and wood. Saint-Denis was the location of César’s workshop, where the sculpture was made.

July 2012