French Artist CESAR Returns in First U.S. Solo Show in 50 Years, 11/1
Beginning November 1, 2013, Luxembourg & Dayan will present Ce?sar, an historical survey devoted to Ce?sar Baldaccini (1921- 1998), the celebrated French artist and founding member in 1960 of the Nouveaux Re?alistes group that paralleled the emergence of American Pop Art and included Yves Klein, Jean Tinguely, Christo, Martial Raysse, and Arman, among others. The exhibition comprises two-dozen works spanning the career of the artist known everywhere simply as 'Ce?sar,' and suggests his fundamental contribution to the evolution of modern sculpture through a radical rethinking of classicism and bold experiments with new materials. Featuring rare objects from the artist's estate, major museums, and important private collections, Ce?sar coincides with the 60th anniversary of theartist's first one-man exhibition, which took place at the Galerie Lucien Durand in Paris.
Filling all of Luxembourg & Dayan's townhouse at 64 East 77th Street, Ce?sar also is the first U.S. solo exhibition devoted to the artist in half a century. In a fitting coincidence, the show takes place on the very same street where Ce?sar's breakthrough American exhibition Sculpture: 1953-1961 was presented at the Saidenberg Gallery in 1961. In tribute to this history, the artist's 8 foot tall bronze sculpture Pouce (1993) will stand in front of the gallery's building, a literal and figurative fingerprint on the streetscape of New York City.
Ce?sar will remain on view through January 18, 2014.
Ce?sar at Luxembourg & Dayan has been organized with the support of Fondation Ce?sar and its director Ste?phanie Busuttil-Janssen. The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalog featuring a new short story by renowned Israeli author Etgar Keret, inspired by the work of Ce?sar. The book will be published in English and French.
In conjunction with Ce?sar in New York City and the 40th edition of the FIAC art fair in Paris, Lanvin creative director Alber Elbaz will pay tribute to Ce?sar's significant position in modern French culture by curating a public presentation of three of the artist's monumental sculptures. These masterworks, on loan from Fondation Ce?sar, will be on view in large vitrines that front the Lanvin flagship on the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore?, for a month beginning mid-October 2013. This special presentation honors Ce?sar's long engagement with the world of fashion. Over the course of his career, the artist collaborated on projects with Herme?s, Nina Ricci, and Louis Vuitton, among others.
Performative, Poetic, Powerful
Examining the various aesthetic and conceptual turns that typify Ce?sar's practice, the show at Luxembourg & Dayan will present historically significant examples from his Compression, Human Imprint, and Expansion series, as well as such early figurative works as the Venus-like welded iron sculpture Torso (1954), on loan from the permanent collection of The Museum of Modern Art. The exhibition focuses in particular upon Ce?sar's radical work of the 1960s and 70s. In these decades the artist avidly explored the aesthetic and intellectual territory between classical and conceptual sculpture. Works on view reveal how Ce?sar challenged traditional notions of form and space, and proposed a fresh and highly personal sculptural language via his pioneering experiments with postwar industrial materials.
Moving through the different levels of Luxembourg & Dayan's building, visitors will take in the evolution of a career punctuated by seemingly sudden and contradictory departures in style and materials. Pink and white iridescent polyurethene Expansion murales give way to Compression murales - dense wall pieces made up of jute sacks, wool blankets, and scraps of cor- duroy and velour - and extraordinary wall-mounted sculptures made from parts of automobiles and motorcycles. Through these disparate bodies of work, however, Ce?sar ultimately reveals an unmistakable consistency of vision and traces a central preoccupation across decades: Ce?sar ceaselessly explored the ways in which an artist's hand can guide, craft, and indelibly imprint the world's many common industrial materials without hampering their inherent propen- sities. From glass fiber to polyester resin, from found car parts inviting compaction to molten bronze begging to be cast, the materials of Ce?sar's sculptures are masterfully guided into per- formative, poetic, powerful objects that seem just completed moments ago. In his pursuit of a new language, the artist helped to move sculptural practice from the 'modern' to the 'contemporary.'
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by Barry Kostrinsky