Born in Marseilles in 1921, César was admitted in 1943 to the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts in Paris. During his years in Paris, he lived in the same building as the painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti (1901–1966), who had a major influence on his early career. In 1947 he began creating sculptures in plaster. Later, in 1949, he learned arc welding, a technique that made him turn permanently to the use of scrap metal. By the late 1950s, César had achieved his mature style and established a public reputation. From that time on, his work was constantly shown in numerous salons, biennales, and exhibitions in France and other countries (such as Japan, the United States, the Netherlands, and Italy), where he received many awards. He was appointed a professor at his alma mater in Paris in 1970. Internationally recognized, in the 1980s César executed monumental works. He represented France at the 46th Venice Biennale in 1995, and retrospectives of his work were held in Paris, Marseilles, Malmö, Milan, São Paulo, Seoul, Mexico City and Montevideo. César died in Paris in 1998.