César Baldaccini was born in 1921 in Marseille, his parents were of Italian descent. He first studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Marseille from 1935 to 1939. In 1943 he entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris on a scholarship. At a young age he developed an artistic vision that partly arose from his rather shabby home and living environment. This made him one of the most important founders of Nouveau Réalisme (New Realism). With this movement, artists reacted to the abstract art of their time and brought innovation by reusing everyday materials and elements and usually subjecting them to certain arrangements. An important part of his oeuvre are the ‘compressions’, usually car wrecks pressed into a block using a scrap press. With this he made use of the industrial techniques of his time and thus created a direct link with the new reality. Another important part are the bronze or plastic ‘expansions’, which literally stand for enlargements. The best-known example of this is probably the thumb, next to the milk jug, teapot, bucket,… César was partly responsible for a number of ‘happenings’, in which he created sculptures in the presence of spectators. He is also the designer of the statuettes for the national film prize ‘de Césars’, the French equivalent of the American Oscars. In 1998 he died in Paris from the effects of cancer.