News Archive 2020

Latest Illuminating Objects artwork on display at the Science Museum

20 Oct 2020

The latest artwork in The Courtauld’s Illuminating Objects series – the sculpture Habitation by French artist, César Baldacinni, known as César – is now on display at the Science Museum, London.

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, students  focus on researching one object in our collection that sparks their curiosity. Their project culminates in their research being presented online, and the object being displayed in The Courtauld Gallery so that it can be enjoyed and experienced by wider audiences. Whilst The Courtauld Gallery is temporarily closed for refurbishment, Habitation will be on display on Level 2 at The Science Museum in London until Spring 2021.

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

A digital display also 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.

Three dimensional sculpture made of metal found materials.
César, Winged figure ‘Habitation', 1960. The Courtauld, London (Samuel Courtauld Trust) © SBJ, ADAPG, Paris and DACS, London. Photo © The Courtauld