Christian Boltanski, ‘Reliquaire’, 1990, Phillips

Property Subject to the Artist's Resale Right (see Conditions of Sale for further information)

This work is registered with the Christian Boltanski Archive (number CB 0495)

From the Catalogue:
‘I never take photographs myself. I don’t feel like a photographer, more like a recycler.’

Christian Boltanski

French conceptualist Christian Boltanski uses found images and readymade objects to create works that are centred on loss, memory, childhood and the forgotten. He creates haunting installations by repurposing objects and enlarging anonymous photographs, further distorting the faces. The anonymity of the images in his work allows the viewer to reflect on the themes and atmosphere rather than on the identity of the individuals. ‘I try to find images that are sufficiently imprecise to be as widely shared as possible,’ Boltanski has stated, ‘vague images that spectators can embroider as they see fit.’

Reliquaire, the work offered here, consists of one cement tin brick column on top of which are two steel boxes with two photographs illuminated by two lamps. It presents itself as a memorial to unknown beings and unknowable loss. The title Reliquaire means reliquary – a container designed to hold or exhibit a relic. The relic in this case is not saintly bones but the sense of passing time and the remains of people we never knew.
Courtesy of Phillips

Archivo Pons Artxiboa, Koldo Mitxelena Kulturunea, San Sebastián, Spain, 17 October 2002 - 11 January 2003, for the present lot

Archivo Pons Artxiboa, exh. cat., Koldo Mitxelena Kulturunea, San Sebastián, Spain, 2002, p. 209

Galerie Jennifer Flay, Paris

About Christian Boltanski

Preoccupied with collective memory, mortality, and the passage of time, Christian Boltanski creates paintings, sculptures, films, and mixed-media installations that approach these themes in a range of styles, symbolic to direct. Boltanski often makes metaphorical use of found objects, as in No Man’s Land (2010), an enormous pile of discarded jackets set to the soundtrack of thousands of human heartbeats, suggesting the anonymity, randomness, and inevitability of death. In Monuments (1985), electrical bulbs cast a seemingly bittersweet light on pictures of child holocaust victims. Describing his interest in personal histories, Boltanski has said, “What drives me as an artist is that I think everyone is unique, yet everyone disappears so quickly. […] We hate to see the dead, yet we love them, we appreciate them.”

French, b. 1944, Paris, France, based in Malakoff, France