César (French, 1921-1998) Shock Red 165 1998
Lot 10* AR TP
César
(French, 1921-1998)
Shock Red 165
1998
Sold for £ 125,000 (US$ 164,415) inc. premium

Lot Details
César (French, 1921-1998) Shock Red 165 1998
César (French, 1921-1998)
Shock Red 165
1998

signed and dated 98
compression of painted car

165 by 80 by 80 cm.
64 15/16 by 31 1/2 by 31 1/2 in.

Footnotes

  • This work is registered in the Archives Denyse Durand-Ruel, Paris, under no. 5630.

    Provenance
    Private Collection, Europe (acquired from the artist)
    Sale: Sotheby's, Paris, Art Contemporain, Vente du Jour, 8 December 2010, Lot 175
    Acquired directly from the above by the present owner

    Exhibited
    Milan, Fondazione Mudima; Dijon, Le Consortium Centre d'Art Contemporain, César: la Suite Milanaise, 1998-1999, p. 82, illustrated in colour, p. 83, illustrated in colour and p. 85, illustrated in colour
    Paris, Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain, César: Anthologie par Jean Nouvel, 2008, p. 140, illustrated in colour and p. 146, illustrated in colour (detail)

    Literature
    Bernard Blistène, César: La Rétrospective, Paris 2017-2018, pp. 204-205, illustrated in colour (installation view)



    César's Shock Red 165 from 1998 is one of the final works of the French sculptor's career belonging to one of his most acclaimed series, a culmination of his radical approach that would make him one of the most celebrated and thought-provoking artists of the Twentieth Century. The present work, a glittering liquid red compression of a Fiat Marea, is the final synthesis of the artist's practice that would see him reassess the definition of sculpture and redefine the role of the artist entirely. Having been widely exhibited, the present work comes to market following inclusion in the retrospective honouring the tenth anniversary of the artist's death at the Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain, Paris in 2008 and having also been included in the catalogue for the critically acclaimed recent exhibition of César's work at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.

    Along with his fellow Nouveaux Réalistes César sought to incorporate everyday objects into his practice and began to re-examine the role of the readymade. Starting in the early 1960s César was captivated by the new metal compressors being used in the junk yards of Paris, which led him to create sculptures out of old cars hand-selected from the Parisian scrap yards. His Compression works, arguably some of the most celebrated in his oeuvre, would be a consistent motif of his career as he began to experiment with a variety of materials and finishes. They also provided the spark for various other series including his Expansions. Works from various Compression series are now included in museum collections globally, including MoMA, New York, the Tate Collection, London, and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris and in 1995 César presented a 520-tonne block of Compression works at that year's Venice Biennale.

    As César's practice developed, so did his choice of readymade objects culminating in the Suite Milanaise series, in which the present work is included. Made from the chassis of fifteen freshly produced Fiats plucked off of the production line, they are the ultimate readymade. After being compressed they are then painted in various monochromatic shades: each shiny, luscious, almost dripping with rich colours. Despite the seeming violence and random nature of their execution, there is a delicacy to them, a softness in the folds and ripples of their surface. The works were initially presented together in a rainbow display of compressions in the final exhibition of the artist's life at the Fondation Cartier, standing totem-like as capstones to the artist's career. Shock Red 165, a quotidian vehicle transformed into a gleaming, monumental work of art, is the epitome of César's practice which would see him meld art and everyday objects to indelibly change art for generations to follow.
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