In 1967 when the curator of the Musée Picasso called upon contemporary artists to celebrate the painter of Demoiselles d'Avignon who had passed away three years earlier, César immediately thought of the centaur, the inverted double of the Minotaur that inhabited the work of the Catalan artist.
A hybrid mythological creature, half-man, half-animal, the centaur embodies wild strength, speed, the spirit of conquest. Built of an assemblage of metallic plates, molds and everyday objects molded in bronze, César's version is both powerful and excessively delicate. The artist took particular care over the details of the hands and feet in a way that is reminiscent of classical equestrian sculpture. The face is also intriguing and resembles the artist in its rifts and angles. A mask representing Picasso's face covers it, heightening the impression that this self-portrait is much more obsequious than it seems.
A major piece in César's career that many consider to be one of the masterpieces of the history of statuary, Le Centaure (Hommage à Picasso) is the perfect synthesis between classicism and modernism. Composed of clear cut contours and broken angles, the work breaks with abstraction and employs the most contemporary of materials and techniques. Le Centuare (Hommage à Picasso) is thus a complex work of many meanings and which embodies the singularity of César's artistic approach. Its eloquence is intensified by its large size that pulls the spectator into an encounter or even a confrontation.
César and Candice Fraiberger, March 1991 © D.R. © SBJ/ADAGP, Paris 2017
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