Combustion d'Allumettes, c. 1970
Burned matches on cardboard
17.32 H x 11.81 inches
44 H x 30 cm
Signed lower right "César, Nice"
This work is recorded in the Archives of Madame Denyse Durand-Ruel as No. 8099.
Galerie Ferrero, Nice
Private collection, Paris
During the 1970s, César spent most of the year in his house in the south of France and almost every day went to Nice to work in a small studio made available to him to work on small scale objects, drawings, collages and “bricolages.” The “burnt matches” works were made during this period and were actively collected by his friend photographer and collector Jean Ferrero who opened a gallery to exhibit his Nice school artist friends like César, Arman, Ben Vautier and Guili.
The “burnt matches” series in César work is typical of a Nouveau Réaliste and École de Nice gesture—the use of fire as an artistic medium, initiated by Yves Klein and his burnt paintings as well as Arman with his carbonized musical instruments and furniture of the early 60s.
César experimented by lighting matches against a cardboard or paper background in order to capture the track of the smoke and by keeping the burnt matches glued together and consolidated with resin.
Being somewhat fragile, the works were usually framed directly by Cesar and boxed in plexiglass for protection. This one is the only one we found not boxed. It is more sensitive and delicate than others from this series, because you can see the smoke resulting from the burn and feel the texture of the matches without looking through a plexiglass.