To mark the biggest sporting success in Qatar history, Qatar Museums (QM) has put up a new public art piece by acclaimed French artist César Baldaccini in Souq Waqif.
Le Pouce, in the shape of a giant thumb, is one of Baldaccini’s best-known pieces and a popular example of his tendency to create larger than life experiences. Le Pouce is the latest addition to Qatar’s extensive public art collection, which aims to connect audiences living 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 the historic heart of the city with a piece of modern history, linking the traditional with the contemporary. The piece is in the courtyard next to the police station, to emphasise the scale of work in relation to the surrounding buildings, and the juxtaposition of the sculpture on the streetscape.
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.
Abdulrahman Al Ishaq, the Head of Public Art at QM, said that their 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 is 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.
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 instead of 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 fibre glass and polyester resin.
For more information about the Public Art Programme of Qatar Museums, visit their website at qm.org.qa.