Trio of French exhibitions will celebrate the late artist Christian Boltanski this month

Shows at the Centre Pompidou, Louvre and the Palace of Versailles explore the life and works of the conceptual artist

Christian Boltanski in 2010 Photo: Didier Plowy, courtesy of Marian Goodman Gallery

Christian Boltanski in 2010 Photo: Didier Plowy, courtesy of Marian Goodman Gallery

The life and work of the late French artist Christian Boltanski will be celebrated later this month in a series of exhibitions and events at the Centre Pompidou, Louvre and the Palace of Versailles. The conceptual artist was known for work that explored notions of memory, loss and personal as well as cultural history; he died in Paris in July at the age of 76.

The curators at the Centre Pompidou are planning two major events, including a restaging of the opera Fosse (12 October)—devised by Boltanski, Jean Kalman and Franck Krawczyk—in the carpark below the gallery. The opera, which incorporates a choir, six pianos and 12 cellos (plus a principal cello), was first performed in January 2020.

“Lights, wandering souls, musicians and actors bring to life this opera in which the public becomes part of the work, transforming the parking lot of the Centre Pompidou into a Dantesque lair where the voices of the soprano [the UK singer Karen Vourc’h] resonate,” says a statement from the Centre Pompidou.

The exhibition La vie impossible de Christian Boltanski (13 October-13 April 2022), featuring major works dating from 1968 until the artist’s death, will be held across three galleries of the Musée national d'art moderne at the Centre Pompidou. The show includes the installation The Heart (2005), a recording of Boltanski’s heartbeat accompanied by the synchronous flickering of lightbulbs.

The Louvre will show Boltanski’s piece Les Archives de Christian Boltanski 1965-1988, drawn from the collection of the Centre Pompidou (13 October-10 January 2022). The work, shown in the Grande Galerie, comprises 646 biscuit boxes containing 1,200 photographs and 800 documents relating to the artist’s life. An exhibition of Boltanski’s works, titled L’Empire du Temps. Mythes et creations, opened at the Louvre in 2000.

The curator Catherine Grenier writes on the Centre Pompidou website that the installation is based on “memories of Boltanski's smallest [most trivial] daily activities from 1965 to 1988… the cookie boxes that enclose these archives, characteristic of Boltanski's practice, give this composition an appearance of minimal sculpture.”

Meanwhile, a sound installation by Boltanski, L’Horloge Parlante (The Speaking Clock, 2003) will be shown in the Royal Chapel at the Palace of Versailles outside Paris (12 October-6 November). The work—which features a voice spelling out the passing seconds, minutes and hours—was presented at Salzburg Cathedral in 2009.


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