The Courtauld launches the latest in its Illuminating Objects series - The Courtauld Institute of Art

The Courtauld launches the latest in its Illuminating Objects series

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The Courtauld launches the latest in its Illuminating Objects series

Cesar, Habitation

Photo © The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London. © SBJ, ADAPG, Paris and DACS, London


The Courtauld is today launching the latest in its Illuminating Objects series, a digital display exploring the sculpture Habitation by French artist, César Baldacinni, known as César.

Launched in 2012, the Illuminating Objects series is supported by McQueens Flowers Ltd and explores some of the ornate, unusual and largely unknown objects in The Courtauld’s sculpture and decorative arts collections.

Delivered in partnership with young scholars outside the History of Art in disciplines such as anthropology, theology and the sciences, and with partner higher education institutions, they focus on researching one object in our collection that sparks their curiosity and their project culminates in their research being presented online, and the object being displayed in the Galleries so that it can be enjoyed and experienced by wider audiences.

The latest McQueens Illuminating Objects intern, Jack Monaghan, is currently studying for an MSc in Science Communication at Imperial College and also specialises in science-inspired theatre and events. Our partnership with The Science Museum has provided Jack with an opportunity to focus on the scientific ideas and techniques embodied in César’s sculpture.

Whilst The Courtauld Gallery is temporarily closed for refurbishment, Habitation was due to be displayed at The Science Museum in London from April. However, this has been postponed until later this year as the museum is currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Our display explores the life and work of César, and examines the materials, processes and his radical vision that enabled him to create a sculpture that marked the beginning of his journey into science-made-art.

In 1960, César joined a group of artists called the New Realists, who emerged from the French avant-garde. The group reused objects in their artwork as part of a practice they described as ‘poetic recycling.’

Habitation was created from over 100 separate pieces of scrap metal that were collected from a junkyard on the outskirts of Paris and welded together by César in 1960. The sculpture was first exhibited in the UK at César’s solo show at the Hanover Gallery, London, in November 1960.

Discover Habitation

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