César (1921 - 1998)

Hommage à Léon

Homage to Léon
    Bronze with black patina, 3/8
  • Cast by Bocquel, Bréauté, 1980
149 × 44 × 62.5 cm
Signatures and Inscriptions
Incised with signature, numbered and stamped with the foundry mark ΄César / 3/8 / BOCQUEL / FONDEUR΄ (on the base)

Galerie Beaubourg, Paris

Private collection, since 1980


Paris, Galerie Beaubourg, Foire international de l’art contemporain (FIAC), October 1980

Andros, Museum of Contemporary Art-Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation, Glancing at the Century, 28 June – 20 September 1998, pp. 126-127, ill. p. 127


Grégoire Müller, “Der Plastiker César,” Du, vol. II, no. 342, 1968, p. 112

Jean-Louis Mons, Villetaneuse informations, vol. IX, 1982, p. 23

Pierre Nahon, “Je suis un sculpteur ancien,” Cimaise, vol. 31, no. 170, May-July 1984, p. 89

Pierre Restany, César, Paris, La Différence, 1988, p. 195

“César,” Galleries Magazine, no. 55, summer 1993, p. 99

Denise Durand-Ruel, César (catalogue raisonné), vol. I, 1947-1964, Paris, La Différence, 1994, p. 419

César, Daniel Abadie, “Sur la Sculpture,” César, retrospective exhibition catalogue, Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, 10 June – 19 October 1997, p. 18

Current location
Artwork is not currently on display
Tour Guide Code
Audio Guide

It was out of necessity that César began to take an interest in iron as a sculpting material and a welding technique. In 1954, the owner of a factory that manufactured metal cabinets in a suburb located in the north of Paris, put the enormous hall of his building to the artist’s disposal. He also authorized César to use metal pieces and the factory’s machines freely. For more than a decade César worked there passionately, combining at the same time the skills of worker, artisan and artist. The work Homage to Léon, as indicated by the title, is dedicated to Léon Jacques, the owner of the factory.

The work is marked by an important influence to the artist: that of Germaine Richier. Their works have irregular surfaces which underline the sense of suffering, pain and doubt in common. They are also both permeated by the vision of Pompeiian corpses entombed in their death agony by the ash of Vesuvius. César is especially interested in the construction of the sculpture, how it is assembled from all kinds of scrap iron. He uses bits of metal like pieces of a puzzle, where only the soldering iron will place them side by side, modify and finally assemble them. Nevertheless, this does not mean his sculptures do not contain that “inner presence.” Léon, rendered with hollow eye-sockets, mouth opened as if to let out a cry and stomach slashed by deep gashes, speaks of a distress that is very close to the work of Giacometti. Portrayed with feet joined, hands captured in a gesture they seem unable to complete, the model is reminiscent of the lanky figures of the Swiss sculptor not so much in the physical aspect as in the mental state he is subject to.

This version of Homage to Léon presented here, was cast in 1980, that is to say sixteen years after the conception of the original in welded metal. We cannot however speak of an “edition” as César was happy to point out: “[…] These are variations, not classical casts at all […] Each piece has its originality… I intervene constantly. There’s no relation whatsoever between iron and bronze”.

(1921 - 1998)
First Name
Last Name
Marseille, France, 1921
Paris, France, 1998