Audio transcript

JEAN FAUTRIER 'Head of a Hostage'

Narrator: Although at first glance this sculpture resembles a clumsily-shaped lump of lead, it conceals the delicate profile of a human face. It was made during the Second World War by the French artist Jean Fautrier. Fautier had links to the resistance, and was being investigated by the Gestapo. For his own safety, a friend arranged for him to enter a mental asylum on the outskirts of Paris. But even here, there was a constant reminder of the Nazi occupation. The forest around the asylum was used to torture and execute prisoners, and Fautrier could hear the victims screaming. This work was one of a series of paintings and sculptures made during this period, called the Hostages. They are all figures whose individual features seem to be mutilated or decaying, suggesting the anonymous quality of corpses in a mass grave.