Posted on February 03, 2019

Marking the biggest sporting success in Qatar’s history, Qatar Museums (QM) announced that a new public art piece by acclaimed French artist César Baldaccini has been installed in Souq Waqif.

Le Pouce, in the shape of a giant thumb, is one of its creator’s best-known pieces and a popular example of his tendency to create larger than life experiences. Le Pouce becomes the latest addition to Qatar’s extensive public art collection, which aims to connect audiences living in and visiting Qatar with inspiring works of art through unexpected interactions in daily life.

QM chose Souq Waqif as the site for Le Pouce to combine this historic heart of the city with a piece of modern history, linking the traditional with the contemporary. Within the Souq, the exact location of the piece, in the courtyard next to the police station, helped emphasise the scale of the work in relation to the surrounding buildings and the juxtaposition of the sculpture on the streetscape of cafes. At night, the highly polished bronze patina of the sculpture will complement the glow of street lighting in Souq Waqif, while the work will be visible from numerous angles during the day. As such, Le Pouce will become an important marker and a familiar spot for visitors to the Souq. It will also become a popular landmark for tourists and visitors and a new stop within public art tours that reflect upon both the art and the diverse public spaces of the city.

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Abdulrahman Al Ishaq, the Head of Public Art at QM, said: “Our public art collection is ever expanding, now spanning over 50 unique pieces placed around Doha, in the desert and at the airport, among other sites. Marking such a momentous occasion for our country with a permanent installation that we hope will help visitors make new memories is a tremendous honour and the truest example of what our Public Art Programme was designed to achieve.”  The original cast of the artist’s own thumb was first produced for an exhibition on the theme of hands titled ‘Le Main’ in 1965, in Paris. The artist then made a series of increasingly larger versions of the thumb, scaling-up the smaller model using traditional techniques. The motif of the thumb has become the most well-known of the artist’s subjects.

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César Baldaccini (1921-1998) was born to Italian parents in Marseilles, France. He was an important figure in the French 1960s art movement Noveau Réalisme, which was inspired by the use of everyday objects as opposed to traditional art materials. He began his career in a presentation of welded iron pieces and by the early 1960s was making sculptures from machine-crushed pieces of metal known as Compressions. After 1965, César began work on a series known as Expansions where he experimented with materials like glass fiber and polyester resin.

Under the patronage of its Chairperson, Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, QM has worked with local, regional and international artists for many years to commission and acquire artworks for key locations in and around Doha, as well as other parts of the country as part of its mission to create easily accessible cultural experiences for all those who live in and visit Qatar.