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During the Second World War, Fautrier was associated with the French Resistance, and briefly imprisoned by the Gestapo. Large Tragic Head is one of over thirty paintings and sculptures that he made during the Occupation, and suggests the brutality of Nazi atrocities. Here the artist deliberately disfigured the face of the sculpture, clawing deep furrows into the wet clay. The expressive gesture is implicitly associated with sudden violence, and contrasts with the delicate modelling of the eye and gasping mouth.

August 2011