In 1991, César answered a question from Olivier Cena about his media popularity with a touch of provocation: “I am seventy years old and the largest museum in my country, Beaubourg, has never exhibited me”. If the French sculptor, a major figure of New Realism and better known in the collective memory for his “Thumbs”, emitted here an ounce of regret, today he would be delighted to discover the exceptional retrospective that the Centre Pompidou is dedicating to him until 26 March 2018. A timing that was not chosen at random since the exhibition coincides with the twentieth anniversary of the artist’s death. Among the guests present at the inauguration on 12 December, many knew him and shared his memory with some personal anecdotes about Giacometti and Picasso’s contemporary. César, it is more than fifty years of creation that the retrospective under the direction of Bernard Blistène offers to rediscover. From the “Irons soudés” and “Compressions” that made his reputation very early on to his emblematic “Empreintes”, which include “Pouce” and “Sein”, the exhibition brings together a hundred works from the most emblematic to the most confidential. Like the “Envelopes” through which the artist inserts objects into folded sheets of Plexiglas. Erected in front of Jean Nouvel’s building, the golden “Thumb” welcomed last night prestigious guests such as Gérard Fromanger (to whom the Centre Pompidou devoted an exhibition in 2016), Alber Elbaz, Suzanne Tarasieve or Chantal Thomass, all of whom came to grant the artist’s wish expressed some twenty-six years earlier…

Photos: Jean Picon
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