César (1921 - 1998)


    Polished bronze
22.5 × 12 × 9 cm
Signatures and Inscriptions
Incised with signature ΄César΄ (lower left)

Commissioned from the artist

Private collection, since 1980


Andros, Museum of Contemporary Art-Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation, Glancing at the Century, 28 June – 20 September 1998, pp. 128-129, ill. p. 129

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

In 1965 César came upon a pantograph for the first time. This instrument had been invented in the 17th century and ever since was used in the various fields of design, sculpture and craft production. It allows for the reproduction of an identical drawing as well as for its enlargement or reduction to the desired proportions. Prompted by his participation in a group exhibition on the subject of The Hand, he himself learned the technique of replication by pantograph. He made a cast of his own finger and then created a version that stood 2 meters high. For this, he used all kinds of materials: coloured plastic, polyurethane, sugar, crystal, marble, nickel, iron, etc.

Thus, began the series of prints. Besides his thumb, César cast whole hands, open or closed into a fist, as well as the breast of a dancer from the Crazy Horse cabaret. In fact, Thumb remains César’s most iconic work, given that its monumental forms henceforth decorate public spaces in Paris, Marseille, Jeddah and Seoul. Enlarged to such colossal proportions, it immediately suggests the hand of a giant whose size is meant to be at once menacing and protective. It also brings to mind the pleasure the artist experiences when dislocating objects from their intended function. Fixed in this way, the thumb of course recalls its anatomical origins but in its immobility, it also recalls classical statuary. And the latter, regardless of the virtuosity of the creator, could never produce replicas to perfection before the pantograph.

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