Christian Boltanski creates powerful installations that provoke emotional responses from their onlookers. His art is concerned with the sometimes subtle balance between presence and absence, and our need to be remembered while risking being forgotten.
Les lits, 1997-98
DescriptionSeven isolated metal boxes on legs and covered in plastic stand in a darkened room. Empty save for duvets and pillows, the boxes are fitted with various kinds of neon light.
About the workThe French artist Christian Boltanski has constructed an installation that comes across as cold and oblique. Placed in a darkened, sterile room lit solely by the sharp glare of neon tubes, the bed-like sculptures with their different sizes recall incubators, operating tables, autopsy tables, hospital beds, deathbeds or coffins.
Boltanski's art in generalBoltanski's works deal with memories and the past and with how we hold on to reminiscences. He employs objects that all refer to a lived life, e.g. second-hand clothes and family snapshots. The results are evocative installations that set up vivid contrasts: light vs darkness, life vs death, presence vs absence, organic vs mechanic.
Literature"Christian Boltanski: Reconstitution", Bad. Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, 1978
"Boltanski", Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 1984
"Christian Boltanski: Lessons of Darkness", Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, 1988
"Christian Boltanski: Reconstitution", Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, 1990
Christian Boltanski career in art began when he left school at twelve to paint and draw.....