César (César Baldaccini)

Portrait of Patrick Waldberg


Not on display

César (César Baldaccini) 1921–1998
Original title
Portrait de Patrick Waldberg
Object: 1994 × 2203 × 264 mm
Presented by Kate Maremont Foundation on behalf of Mr and Mrs Arnold H. Maremont 1970

Display caption

César's work established a bridge between industrial processes and art. In 1960, fascinated with the compression machines in the factories that made his sculptures, he began using them to make 'compressions' of his own. This assemblage consists of several forms - parts of Austins and Renaults - that have been compressed and opened out again. The title was an act of revenge against Patrick Waldberg, a leading French art critic who wrote a stinging attack on César.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

César born 1921

T01204 Portrait de Patrick Waldberg (Portrait of Patrick Waldberg) 1961-2

Inscribed 'Cesar' b.r.
Iron relief, 78 1/2 x 86 3/4 x 10 3/8 (200 x 220 x 26.5)
Presented by the Kate Maremont Foundation on behalf of Mr and Mrs Arnold H. Maremont 1970
Prov: With Galerie Claude Bernard, Paris (purchased from the artist); Mr. and Mrs Arnold H. Maremont, Chicago, 1962
Exh: Art since 1950, Seattle World's Fair, April-October 1962 (110, repr.) as 'Panel' 1962; Treasures of 20th Century Art from the Maremont Collection, Washington Gallery of Modern Art, Washington, DC, April-May 1964 (157) as 'Fracture'
Repr: Quadrum, XII, 1961 (sic), p.42 as 'Portrait de Patrick Waldberg' 1961; Pierre Restany, César (Monte-Carlo 1975), pl.17 in colour

This sculpture has also been exhibited as 'Fracture', but the artist said on 31 May 1973 that this title is incorrect and that he called it 'Portrait of Patrick Waldberg'. Waldberg, a leading French art critic, had written an attack on César's compressions which annoyed him very much, and he named this sculpture after him as a way of getting his own back. It was an assemblage of several compressions - parts of Austins and Renaults - the forms being compressed and then opened out again. One could regard it as a collage of these materials. He only made three or four works like this, one of which belongs to the Colombe d'Or and another to the Centre National d'Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou, Musée National d'Art Moderne in Paris. He regards it as one of his major works.

While making sculpture in factories he often watched compression machines at work and eventually realised that this had artistic possibilities. (He first saw small compression machines which didn't particularly interest him, then saw a large one which he found very exciting). His first compressions were made in 1960 and they were first exhibited at the Salon de Mai that year, where they caused a big scandal. The article by Patrick Waldberg on the compressions which so annoyed him was 'Rendons à César ...' in Les Nouvelles Littéraires, 1 January 1962, in which, among other things, Waldberg quoted a remark by Man Ray: 'The real art, for César, would be to take this object now and turn it back into a motor car which works'.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.101, reproduced p.101


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