César (César Baldaccini)

Torn-Away Paper


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Not on display

César (César Baldaccini) 1921–1998
Original title
Papier arraché
Ink on paper
Support: 1650 × 1250 × 30 mm
frame: 1780 × 1385 × 72 mm
Presented by J. Sainsbury Ltd 1962

Display caption

An accident inspired César to invent the technique of 'papier arraché' which he used to make this and other works. The paper was covered in two layers of differently coloured ink and finally coated in black. The narrow strips were then made by applying vertical strips of Sellotape onto the paper in horizontal rows and tearing them away. By varying the degree of violence by which each strip was torn away César was able to achieve a range of effects depending on how much of the painted layer was removed by the torn away Sellotape strips.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

César born 1921

T00472 Papier arraché (Torn-away Paper) 1961

Inscribed 'Cesar' b.r.
Ink on paper, 65 x 49 1/8 (165 x 125)
Presented by J. Sainsbury Ltd. 1962
Prov: With Hanover Gallery, London (purchased from the artist); J. Sainsbury Ltd., London
Lit: Pierre Restany, César (Monte-Carlo 1975), p.115

César told the compiler on 31 May 1973 that he calls this technique 'papier arraché'. He made these works by coating the paper with a coloured ink, which was allowed to dry; then adding another layer of a different colour, which was also left to dry; and finally adding a third (black). The variegated patches and strips were produced by sticking strips of Sellotape onto the paper and tearing them off with different degrees of violence. A gentle pull would expose just one layer, whereas a violent rip might penetrate down to the white. He discovered this technique by accident.

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.100, reproduced p.100

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