Christian Boltanski

 

Profile

Boltanski is a self-taught artist who started painting large figurative works when he was 13. He went on to produce installations and films that were shown in 1968 in his first exhibition entitled "La Vie Impossible." 1969 marked a turning point with his nine-page booklet
« recherche et présentation de tout ce qui reste de mon enfance » concluding that childhood is the first thing that dies in us.
Through the use of documents that did not pertain to him, his work became an autobiography of individual collective memory based on the observation that every instant of our lives is immediately transformed into a past that is as definitive as death.
In the 1980's he broadened the scope of his work, moving to collective destinies in the context of the 20th century, highlighting concepts of guilt (Reserve: Detective series) and destiny (The Missing House), and classical themes(Archive Dead Swiss).
Boltanski says that he has attempted through a wide range of media, including joint productions in musical theater and opera, and ephemeral installations of more than 20 years, to raise existential issues with his viewers.

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Boltanski is a self-taught artist: he left school and formal education at an early age and started painting large figurative works when he was 13. He went on to producing installations and films that were shown in 1968 in his first exhibition entitled "La Vie Impossible" at the Ranelagh movie theater in Paris.

1969 marked a turning point when he produced a nine-page booklet entitled « recherche et présentation de tout ce qui reste de mon enfance ». In this first autobiographical experience he came to the conclusion that childhood is the first thing that dies in us. His approach was based on archeological techniques and placed his work, as Harald Szeeman pointed out, in the realm of individual mythology.

Through the use of documents that did not pertain to him, the work became an autobiography of possibilities and imagination, a kind of individual collective memory. Boltanski's approach stems from the observation that every instant of our lives is immediately transformed into a past that is as definitive as death.

In the 1980's he broadened the scope of his work, moving from personal to collective destinies, in the context of the 20th century and the conflicts of that period. He took an interest in the concepts of guilt ("Reserve: Detective" series) and destiny ("The Missing House"); he revisited classical themes, such as Vanities ("Archive Dead Swiss"). Although his work has involved the most variegated media: photography, sculpture, collage, video and sound, he claims his place in tradition and has always called himself a "painter".

Through his work, exhibited in most of the world's great museums, his joint productions in musical theater and opera, his ephemeral installations of more than 20 years, Boltanski has used sensitive means in an attempt to raise existential issues with his viewers.

Biography

  1944  Born in Paris
  1968 First exhibition at the Ranelagh movie theatre in Paris
  1972 Invited to Documenta-5 in Kassel: Album of D family, 1939-1954; also attended Documenta-6 in 1977 and Documenta-8 in 1987
  1973-74 Inventory series, exhibited in five venues including Baden-Baden and Paris
  1975 With the DAAD scholarship co-produced Honeymoon in Berlin with Annette Messager and presented the work in Venice Biennale
  1984 Retrospective exhibition at the Pompidou Center, Paris
  1985 Monument series
  1988-89 Retrospective: Lessons of darkness in several museums in North America (Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Vancouver, Berkeley, Toronto)
  1990 Dead Swiss premiered in New York First solo exhibition in Japan: ICA, Nagoya and Art Tower, Mito
  1990-1991 European retrospective (Eindhoven, London, Grenoble, Hamburg)
  1994 Aachen Art Prize, Germany
  1997 Retrospective at the National Museum of Korea, Seoul
  1998 Dernières années at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
  2000 Installation in the ‘Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial,’ also in '03 and '06
  2001 Kaiser Ring Prize, Germany
  2006 Exhibition at Museum of Modern Art, Rome