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Eye On Design: César Expansion Table

cesar expansion table photo by gail worley
Installation View With Rene Gabriel’s Bridge Armchair (All Photos By Gail)

The celebrated French artist César (born Cesare Baldaccini) was a founding member in 1960 of the Nouveaux Réalistes group. His amorphous bronze and glass Expansion Table (1977) is one of the rare works in which César applied his Expansion technique to a functional object. Whereas he also created a handful of bronze ashtrays, lamps, as well as the console commissioned by Henri Samuel, the Expansion Table is the object in which César philosophy — his belief that life and art are one entity, indivisible —achieves its apex.

cesar expansion table detail photo by gail worley

Some background on César’s Expansions: One of the artist’s great breakthroughs in the late 1960s took the form of sculptural spills called Expansions. Realized with liquid polyurethane foam, a novel material at the time, each spill involved actively pouring specifically tinted foam, allowing it to expand, and then leaving it to set in a process that resulted in soft forms several times larger than their original liquid volume.

cesar expansion table detail photo by gail worley

César was moved by this material’s freedom and energy — rather than conforming to the matrix of a mold, it actually spread and expanded in what would famously become a critically admired analog for the new spirit of liberation that marked the era. As Pierre Restany noted in 1970, “César’s expansions reveal a new phase in his work, the phase of maturity: the mastering of the technique allied to the freedom of form.”

cesar expansion table installation view photo by gail worley

Photographed at at Demisch Danant, Located at 30 West 12th Street in NYC.